Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Everything you never wanted to know about batteries...
My recent relationship with batteries got off to an explosive start in the very beginning when we were installing the solar system on my truck.
As you know, I use the word ‘we’ loosely. Usually it is me handing Shazam the tools for her to do the work.
This time Shazam was making a simple run to the bathroom. I was left in charge of tying all the negative wires together with a simple bolt and nut.
I manage to melt a wrench and a few wires in the process, shooting flames and sparks all over the place and bringing Shazam out of the house at a very fast clip.
Once they were installed, I put those batteries out of my mind for a long, long time. Until I needed to add water to them, in Malibu, CA.
I was shocked to find out they took just short of a gallon of distilled water. After reaching México and experiencing the intense sun here, I began checking them ever week – and adding close to 4 liters of water – which is also close to a gallon.
In the meantime, the red LED light on my charger was coming every day during the height of sun. It would flash red and then be solid red.
No one could tell me what that meant so I decide it means that the sun is too intense. So I would turn on the electric-guzzling water pot to keep the voltage lower.
Guillermo tells me now that it means the batteries are being charged to their fullest. So I've been preventing the batteries from being totally charged.
Furthermore, he says I’ve been overfilling the batteries with water. There is a neck, he says, that should be water-free! Hmmm.
The result is something about plates sticking together, or something sticking to the plates. The other result is that the batteries have not been getting 100% charged but only 50% or so charged.
I tell Guillermo that the batteries are new, 6 months old at the most. And that the system was working and overproducing so very well, I was tempted to try to sell electricity!
It’s not working well now. So Guillermo wants to return and try bypassing the inverter and charger and charging the batteries directly from the solar panels.
He says the charger is reading the batteries as full when they are not. So we will try this tomorrow. And maybe Friday too. He gives me another paper to read about this 30%, 50%, 100% charging business.
And I have to decide, worse case scenario, do I want to spend 3 months of my Joiyssey on batteries?