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Author Topic: Solar Panel batteries  (Read 1367 times)
KD2E
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Posts: 231




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« on: December 11, 2011, 05:21:43 PM »

I have been reading the articles on solar panels.
I had a question about batteries.
I know that a standard car battery needs to be in open air, or well
ventilated...due to the gases released when charging.
Do the same cautions apply to AGM batteries?   Are these the same technology
as what are called "gel cells" ...or somewhat different?
Thanks for the read! 
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2416




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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 10:11:21 PM »

A standard car battery is a very poor choice for operating a ham shack.......   A Marine "Deep Cycle" type is much better.   Even better as pointed out in the other post is a pair of 6 volt golf cart deep cycle type batteries wired in series for 12 volts. 

Better yet are the SLA or AGM sealed type batteries (But they cost lots more)

The standard lead acid type batteries do give off a very small amount of gas, The only time to be concerned is if you had a commercial power failure and ran the battery down, And then "fast" charge it.
Under such circumstances, Do provide some ventilation, And keep sparks away from the battery.

Some folks go off the deep end and refuse to even have such batteries indoors.   Using some common sense, That is way overboard.   I keep my battery right in the ham shack. And have been running my hamshack from battery power for over 30 years now. Works great.
Well ventilated plastic marine battery boxes work good to keep the battery in. 
Install a fuse near the battery, Do keep the plastic cover over the top of the battery, Dropping a steel wrench or something across the battery terminals WOULD be dangerous!
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K5LXP
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Posts: 4474


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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2011, 08:44:49 AM »

I know that a standard car battery needs to be in open air, or well ventilated...due to the gases released when charging.
Do the same cautions apply to AGM batteries?

No.

Quote
Are these the same technology as what are called "gel cells" ...or somewhat different?

Different.

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM



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N6AJR
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Posts: 9914




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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2011, 01:41:53 PM »

it depends on what you are doing with the batteries .  for a backup setup, you could go with a 100 AH deep cycle marine battery, ( like 75 bucks at costco) to run 12 v stuuf for a while if the power goes out, a small solar panel ( like 1 foot square) which puts out 175 to 200 miliamps will kep it "up" for years.  you can also use a small 3 stage motor cycle charger ( I use either the Ranger brand or the A&A engenieering  charger.)  for day to day use, you need larger panels so figure how much power you need and add at least 20 % for the "charging" factor, as you need to put in a little more than you take out for keeping the batteries charged. So if you use 10 amps on transmit and 1 amp on recieve, and you transmit for 1 minute and listenb for 10 minutes you need batteries and panels that will be in the 66 total amps needed per hour, and you need to keep it up for say 10 hours, you need 600 or more AH batteries for  use, and probably 800 or 900 ah as bateries are only good for usetill theey aroundd10.55volts.

for portable use, I reccommend the sealed lead acid or the gel batteries, if the can be mounted  upsidedown, the you got the,  the don't off gas very much.  a good place to find the cheap, is at a store that sells mobility scooters. the come in sizes up to 50 AH's or so.  they last a long time ( I get mine form Spinlife.com, they have free shipping) so you cpuu  ox with a plug in charger, and a solar panel and a radio, and a mag mount antenna and have a super good go kit.  You cam also recharge the bateries with a set of jumper cables  from your car.  Lots of options here. google Homebrew solar, and home brew off grid pow. and look around.
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HAPLO
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Posts: 54




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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2011, 07:49:35 AM »

I keep my battery right in the ham shack. And have been running my hamshack from battery power for over 30 years now. Works great.

I assume you have  a float charger hooked up to it? Do you leave the float charger connected and charging while you're using the battery as well? And is it just a float charger, or is it a desulphating type as well? I have a few desulphating float chargers (once they get the battery charged fully, they go into desulphate/float mode).

http://www.amazon.com/BatteryMINDer-Charger-Maintainer-Desulfator-Model/dp/B000P23HZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323791347&sr=8-1

I've been paranoid about having anything use the battery while the desulphator is on there though, because its supposed to use high frequency pulses to desulphate the cells, and I'm not sure what badness that would result in for a radio connected to it as well.

H.
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2416




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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2011, 10:36:45 PM »

I keep my battery right in the ham shack. And have been running my hamshack from battery power for over 30 years now. Works great.

I assume you have  a float charger hooked up to it? Do you leave the float charger connected and charging while you're using the battery as well? And is it just a float charger, or is it a desulphating type as well? I have a few desulphating float chargers (once they get the battery charged fully, they go into desulphate/float mode).

http://www.amazon.com/BatteryMINDer-Charger-Maintainer-Desulfator-Model/dp/B000P23HZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323791347&sr=8-1

I've been paranoid about having anything use the battery while the desulphator is on there though, because its supposed to use high frequency pulses to desulphate the cells, and I'm not sure what badness that would result in for a radio connected to it as well.

H.

I use Schumacher 10 amp FULLY AUTOMATIC chargers.   These shut right down when the battery is fully charged.   (Mine are the older steel case models, I have not tried any "new" ones in the past few years, So am not up on the latest models)  The battery charger is kept "On" at all times, 24/7, Including when operating.

The 10 amp type charger is about right to keep the battery fully charged during any reasonable T/R duty cycle, And the fully automatic part is the real "secret" to making a battery work well to power a hamshack.   Using this set up batteries last on average about 6 years. Some as long as 10 years, Some a little less. (I am running several different repeaters/ stations on this type power supply, Only ONE battery at each set up.)
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 10:38:45 PM by K9KJM » Logged
NA0AA
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Posts: 1043




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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 03:57:33 PM »

There are different grades of deep cycle batteries, and yes you get what you pay for.

I have two shacks, in one I bought a 100 amp hour 12 volt AGM deep cycle battery - this weighs roughly 80 lbs.  Today it costs over $300 at Batteries plus - I bought mine before the price of lead when thru the roof.

I use two 35 amp hour AGM batteries in parallel in my other shack, but most of the equipment draw is small, so I don't need much capacity.

If I wanted serious capacity, I would buy Trojan 6 volt deep cycle golf car batteries - in standby service they should last for at least 5-7- years if properly watered, and you can get up to 255 amp hours in two managable batteries.  Use a piece of copper tubing flattned, drilled and covered in shrink tubing to bank 'em to 12 volts and be sure to put a nice fuse - like 50 amps or so at your terminals.  This way you don't set something on fire with an accidental short - a battery like that will easily weld.

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AA4PB
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Posts: 12784




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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 04:10:38 PM »

"Some folks go off the deep end and refuse to even have such batteries indoors."

Count me off the deep end  Grin All it takes is a spark from a loose connection while vented hydrogen gas is in the area around the battery. I stick with SLA batteries.

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AA4HA
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Posts: 1386




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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 09:39:27 AM »

I really like the AGM batteries for solar applications. Many of the designs I work up are solar powered radio systems in sealed NEMA 4 or NEMA 12 enclosures with radio electronics mounted in the same box. Getting a decent charge controller for anything that is supplied by a solar panel is very important.

These solar powered sites are frequently located in really remote areas and contain 5 watt digital repeater radios. Sometimes the site is inaccessible if on a mountaintop where the snow and ice can mean that if there is a problem, nobody can get to it until spring.

I use Hawker Genesis batteries. Xantrex makes great PWM charge controllers that can even take a temperature sensor from the battery to monitor for overcharging.

12 volt solar panels can put out 18-22 volts (open circuit voltage) and if the charge is not managed correctly it will cook the battery during the day. The Xantrex controllers are affordable and have some of the highest efficiency ratings out there. They also handle battery cycling.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
HAPLO
Member

Posts: 54




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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 10:55:28 AM »

I really like the AGM batteries for solar applications. Many of the designs I work up are solar powered radio systems in sealed NEMA 4 or NEMA 12 enclosures with radio electronics mounted in the same box. Getting a decent charge controller for anything that is supplied by a solar panel is very important.

These solar powered sites are frequently located in really remote areas and contain 5 watt digital repeater radios. Sometimes the site is inaccessible if on a mountaintop where the snow and ice can mean that if there is a problem, nobody can get to it until spring.

I use Hawker Genesis batteries. Xantrex makes great PWM charge controllers that can even take a temperature sensor from the battery to monitor for overcharging.

12 volt solar panels can put out 18-22 volts (open circuit voltage) and if the charge is not managed correctly it will cook the battery during the day. The Xantrex controllers are affordable and have some of the highest efficiency ratings out there. They also handle battery cycling.

Thanks for the great feedback HA. I see a lot of different brands out there, and its good to have some real world experience to  chime in and confirm whether its worth the money or not.

H.
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KD2E
Member

Posts: 231




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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2011, 10:12:52 AM »

Thanks for all the tips on batteries guys....
I had a 7ah gel cell from Radio Shack.
It runs my Elecraft K1 very nicely....but I would not expect it to do any more than that.
Just got a 28 ah gel cell....MUCH bigger than the Radio Shack one.
I will try it out with my Ten Tec Omni V.
I still think a 100 watt rig will kill that battery in no time!!
I will eventually get an AGM deep cycle (car size) battery, solar panel, and charge regulator...and see
how that handles the 100 watt rig!!
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