More battery woes!

This trip lumbers from bad to worse!

The voltage needle had been fluctuating slightly as I used the computer so I decided to investigate. Checked all the wiring and stuff, went to check the batteries and…they’re bone dry! I can only assume that the slightly higher charge voltage on the battery to battery charger gave them too much juice on the way over here and boiled it all off.
As luck would have it I had about 5 litres of de-ionised water so I topped them all up, did a charge, then ran an equalisation routine. Sadly even after all that they’re not delivering as they should. I should get about 225 amps out of them but over the next couple of days it seems I’m getting about 200 or less.

I bought these specifically because they are a solid workhorse of a battery, 60 kilos of pure lead so cross your fingers that they improve.

Half work – half play.

Today was my first day back at work since last Friday so I was nervous as to how the MiFi would perform. It has seemed ok so far albeit slightly slow, but the work interface uses sockets so needs a very reliable connection. I had lots of problem sin the morning, with the interface lagging like mad and game info not opening. However later on I took the SIM card out of the MiFi and put it into and old dongle I had which is a PAYG one. Connection was MUCH better! Work that one out lol

I noticed that the voltmeter on the wall panel was jittery the last couple of days so I set out to check the batteries and connections. Amazed to find that all six cells in each battery were dry 🙁 Big sigh cos you would think I’d know better given all the problems I’ve had with batteries. However as luck would have it I had 2 large unused bottles of de-ionised water and along with some boiled water it was enough to restore water levels back to where they should be. I believe the only reason the batteries aren’t broken completely is the fact they are huge Trojan’s.

 

Trojan batteries update

Last August I got my new Trojan batteries, you might have read about it here. It’s coming toward the end of April now so I thought I’d give an update on them.

Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery
Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery

When first installed I was told it may take as many as 100 cycles for them to achieve max capacity. A cycle is where the battery is discharged then charged fully again. It’s possible that I am nowhere near my 100 cycles yet. I’ve had them about 9 months, that’s less than 40 weeks, and they will be recharged perhaps 3 times every 2 weeks. So very roughly they may have experienced 60 cycles so far.

At any rate what I can say is that all the other batteries I’ve had have started to deteriorate within weeks of being used. The Trojans don’t seem to have deteriorated at all in 9 months.

I did borrow a Smartgauge off a friend. This little device measures the voltage and current of the batteries and tries to gauge accurately how much ‘life’ is left in them. Life as measured in amp hours (ahrs). I found that the Smartgauge has not even a clue when the battery is fully charged, and inaccurately reports when it is discharged. So it’s now been disconnected. I’m glad I had the chance to borrow one as they cost about £160 new. The only truly reliable method of testing a battery’s state is to use a specific gravity or SG meter, or hydrometer as they’re also known as, about £3 from auto parts stores. I dream of owning an electronic one but they’re about £3,000!!

Anyway, in use, and regular checks with a hydrometer show that these batteries are performing flawlessly. Finally I’ve solved my battery problems and I am a very happy bunny indeed. 🙂

Power to the people

For those who’ve followed my blog from the start, you’ll know that I’ve had a bank of Elecsol batteries, a bank of unbranded lead acid batteries, a bank of Numax batteries and I have successfully killed them all! The Numax faired the worst, they starting deteriorating within 6 weeks of installation, and the setup was darned good. The Elecsols, although I would never touch one again with a bargepole for several reasons, have probably faired the best til now. But compared with their stated abilities, they faired very poorly.

Over the last few years I’ve learned quite a lot about batteries, their applications, appropriate usage, care and maintenance. What I have learned is quite simple:

You can kill any battery no matter what it is if you don’t care for it.
Even average batteries can last you years if you care for them properly.

Now, although I know how to care for mine, the life they lead with me is slightly unforgiving at best, and very demanding at worst. As I said once before I don’t blame Numax for making bad batteries, I blame Adverc for incorrectly recommending the use of Numax’s. So I have spent time recently in Llandulas in North Wales, enjoying Wales and thinking about what to do.

Here’s a recent sunset I observed from where I’m parked.

Llandulas sunset
Llandulas sunset

So, after a lot of thought and research I have chosen my next batteries, and as luck would have it Tayna are only about 2 miles away and can supply them in 2 days. They are going to be…dun dun dunnnn…

I present to you, Trojan, J185 H-AC 12v, true deep cycle, monoblock, open lead acid battery.

Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery
Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery

Check this baby out. At the 20 hour rate it delivers 225 ahrs. It weighs in at a colossal 58 kilos and is about a third of a metre high.

Now, as we know batteries shouldn’t really be discharged below 50% of their capacity. However as this is just a solid hunk of well built lead, you can discharge these down to 20% of their capacity. Of course it will shorten it’s lifespan, but even doing this it will still last longer than most batteries on the market. I do intend to use them as frequently as possible to the 50% DOD state though.

I got what I think is a great price: £225 each, so I bought two. This price is about equivalent to the six Numax’s I had and also to the combined cost of the 5 Elecsols. The most difficult thing has been in getting rid of other  stuff so that I can carry the batteries’ weight. I’ve emailed Trojan’s tech support many times already getting information from them that I needed and they have been superb. I’m looking forward to good things so watch this space!

I submit

I’ve been thinking very long and very hard about this whole battery situation.

If you can’t be bothered to read all the posts, here’s the nub of it:

February last year I bought 6 batteries from Adverc after we discussed my needs and they recommended them.

They began failing within months and after testing it was clear they were not up to the job and I’d been badly advised by Adverc. Manbat did the testing but did not want anything else to do with it and began to ignore my phone calls and emails. Adverc said it was nothing to do with them as they had only supplied the batteries.

Finally between them they offered me 2 new batteries worth less than half the value of what I’d spent, and refused to give me more. Also they asked me to drop 3 of the old ones in for testing to the Sunderland branch, and despite many phone calls it was never arranged for me to get them back.

So, I spent just under £500 for batteries that they said would do the job but wouldn’t, was offered less than half that as recompense, and ignored when I refused it.

So, what have I been thinking very long and hard about? Well, I was going to take Adverc to civil court as they were the sellers therefore they should offer me a refund as the batteries were not fit for purpose.
I was also going to take civil action against Manbat as they have refused to return the other 3 batteries to me.

I paid for some legal advice and they said given the emails I had to show what had been said by whom and when, I was 85% likely to win. However, there was no mechanism to force either Manbat or Adverc to refund me and pay my costs.
Therefore, I needed to consider whether I could bear the loss if I won, but the flatly refused to pay up.

I did think for months about it, and I finally decided that on the strength of the attitude and actions from both Manbat and Adverc, it was highly unlikely that either of them would pay up. So not only would I have lost my initial £500, but I would probably lose a couple more in winning a case that would serve me no good whatsoever.
On balance, why waste money when a win in civil court could not benefit me and indeed would cost me more in money, and in ire.

So, the only thing I can do is ensure that every single opportunity I can possibly get, I let people know what Manbat and Adverc are like. I hope for your sake if you’re reading this and thinking about batteries, that you consider my experiences.

Adverc and Manbat are companies that I will avoid from now on.

I am incensed.

I went to Adverc’s unit to find a chap there who wanted to look at how my system was wired up, what charger I had etc and decide if my system was appropriate for what I was doing. He found that I was doing things by the book and that I had state of the art charging units form Sterling Power, that in fact can handle almost unlimited sized battery banks, rather than being the simple, less than affective chargers it had been suggested I had by Manbat.

Instead of using thin cable, I had spent a lot of money on 35 mm sq cable and bought a blowtorch to solder lugs onto the cable to ensure that the whole system was well built. I also had taken into account the length of all cables and other ideas for a ‘best practice’ system. So, on the strength of that they decide to fit my 2 new batteries. Only 2? Yes because the 6 Numax’s were 86 ahrs each, but these monoblocs were 242 ahrs each. So i had 516 ahrs total capacity with the Numax’s, and 484 ahrs with the Monoblocs, which is near enough for me.

However, as they went to put them in the van for me I asked them to check the voltage. Hmm. They WERE 6 volts, which means I need 2 of them to achieve 242 ahrs. Plus, their cost is about £120 each, therefore less than half what I had spent on the Numax’s. I’m losing out badly here!
I made it very plain that I was not accepting only 2, as they could later say I had agreed on that and I would not get another pair. Andy got on the phone to someone at Manbat and told me they replied that they would not give me 2 more batteries.

I left then, feeling extremely angry, I was going to take legal action. Companies can’t just rip people off like this!