Tuesday, February 19, 2013

new battery bank. Me likey

OK, just for the record here's the saga:

Early 2010, bought battery bank from wholesalesolar.com . 400 amp hour bank of golf cart batteries that their web site touted as "what we use".  Slightly less than 4K. Used it for not even 3 years, bank wouldn't hold charge over night, supplemented with bank of batteries out of substation that worked for a while but not very long. Emailed wholesalesolar.com for help. Was informed that even though I bought the batteries directly from them they wouldn't help me because I ordered the other equipment through a local electrician friend.

Bastards. Right nasty fucking no helping fucking bastards.

Did 5 days of solid research. Ended up contacting DC Battery in Colorado Springs. They referred me to abrahamsolar.com in Pagosa Springs (One Mick Abrahamson). This all came about because in my research I discovered Rolls Surrette. They're a company out of Canada that have been making the premier bang for the buck solar batteries for years.

Can't say enough good about Mick and all his help. He was happy to trouble shoot my installation over the internet for a small fee, which I thought was the best money I ever spent. Then he got DC Battery driver Joe Worrell to meet me in Del Norte (9 miles from my house) to swap my old battery bank for the new one.

Joe was also wonderful, and did I mention Mike from DC Battery? He was great too.

Joe helped my unload my cores and load up the new batteries. He hauled ass to get to Del Norte so I could finish up as early as possible since he knew we had no power without the new batteries.

I had spent the weekend cleaning and prepping the battery room and getting my new rack built and every thing in place. The installation of the new batteries was flawless (thanks to a nice diagram from Mick). Heck I only put a jumper on one set of connections the wrong way and had a splashing lead fire dance for less than a second. :D No blood no foul.

Speaking of blood.....

Marian came and helped me. Marian is an electrician and one hell of a good friend and worker. She did manage to bleed her own blood on a good bit of the rack but much like my fire dance she just kept working.

At 9 PM the lights came on for what should be a period of 10 to 15 years with good maintenance.

Did I mention that DC Battery (http://dcbattery.com) is gonna give me 25 cents a pound for the returned cores?

Summation of the story? Go see Mick at abrahamsolar.com or contact DC Battery (http://dcbattery.com) in Colorado Springs. Under NO circumstances purchase anything from wholesalesolar.com.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Battery troubles.

Figure it's a good idea to write about this one, since we did so much about the construction. :D

The battery bank that we originally installed about 2 1/2 years ago is giving up the ghost. In general it is my fault. The batteries we bought were maintenance free ones. I did a good bit of communication with wholesalesolar.com to figure out what would be best for my needs and that was their recommendation.

NEVER listen to them. :D And, by the way, their customer service completely sucks ass. Diarrhea elephant ass as a matter of fact.

As it turns out, the equipment I bought had factory presets that are perfect for flooded lead acid batteries but the opposite of right for maintenance free batteries. It has to do with charge rates and equalizing charges. The ones I bought are supposed to be good for from 4 to 8 years depending on use. WELL.... not if you charge them wrong.

I would swear that I read all the documentation that came with the batteries, but I missed that one. When I contacted wholesalesolar.com their reply was a terse one stating that I had probably ruined my battery bank and since I'd had a local electrician order the main system for me they would be absolutely NO help with tech support.

I am currently finding help elsewhere so that I don't ruin the next 3 to 5 K worth of batteries.

DO NOT USE wholesalesolar.com FOR ANY REASON, any previous recommendation I have made is hereby nullified. Even when I sent them the pdf file of the receipt for the purchased batteries they would not so much as send me a data sheet so I could figure out exactly what I'd done wrong.

They no longer answer my emails.


I am now working with a very nice man that I met through the Surrette/Rolls main web site. That company makes the best battery for the buck. Flooded lead acid and crazy rechargeable. I am currently educating myself to a large degree on proper battery maintenance and charging info. The new fella is from Pagosa Springs and seems to realize that this is a large investment and worth the effort in education to ensure repeat business. I'm actually paying him up front for knowledge so that he need not feel cheated if I go a different way.

At present we run the generator at night to bump up the batteries and they'll hold until we get a new set.

I was thinking we could use substation batteries that the fellas from that dept are gonna let me have but you can only discharge them 20% of total and I know we won't manage that low a usage level especially in the winter time.

By the way, thanks to Mike at Solar Bear Electric for his help with the generator. We'd be hurting pretty bad at the moment if he hadn't been there for us.

Back to your regular programing. :D