Lights out on Skye

The promised weather has arrived on the Isle of Skye. The rain wasn’t really bad, but the wind is pretty wild, and the lightning was amazing. However one of the lightning shows was actually a sub station going out or something cos all I can see where I am has no lights.

I’ve parked behind the Co-op shop to try and avoid direct blasts, but even so the van was rocking so much that the monitor fell over and broke the foot off the keyboard. It’s quite unnerving as even though I’m sure the van won’t blow over it’s tilting to silly angles.

Photo of outside with no lights on
Photo of outside with no lights on

Anyway I opened the window to take a picture to show you how dark it is…


*Edit:*  I heard a noise outside and saw one of those tall steel posts beside the garage fallen down. As I looked a huge recycling bin came blowing past me spewing books all over the place! The other end of the car park to where I was was in a right state when I had a look, recycling bins blown around and smashed open. Stuff was blowing still and I got hit on the shin by a ladies purse! I ran to catch it but it was empty lol

So, I’ve moved off up the road beside the Youth Hostel as it’s screened by trees and at the moment it doesn’t even feel windy.

Weather map
Weather map

My friend sent me a screenshot from a weather site, the red blob appears to be over the Hebrides where I am….Force 12!

Solar panels are ‘wow’

I installed my solar panels 17 weeks ago today. 3 x 100 watt Biard panels on the roof.
Normally I’d recharge batteries with the gennie once every 3 days and it costs a tenner in petrol for the gennie each time.
So, 17 weeks is 119 days, that’s 40 times I’d have charged the batteries in that period, meaning, £400 of petrol.
However with having the panels, I’ve only had to charge the batteries using the gennie 5 times in that period, that’s £50. So I’ve saved £350 in petrol in that time.
The panels and all the associated bits cost just under £700, so in that 17 weeks I’ve already saved half the cost of them.
Wow is all I can say.

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!

I think it’s all over…

Manbat have decided that betwen them and Adverc, they are going to fit me some replacement batteries,  US125 monobloc’s which ought to be much more robust than the Numax’s. I can’t find the 12v versions online, only 6v, but they look quite well built and they are badged as true deep cycle. But then again…so were the Numax’s…

Adverc are dragging their heels. Andy the boss clearly wants nothing to do with this. I asked him outright if he felt that as the seller her no no obligation to me and he said no, that duty fell to Manbat. I’m fairly sure he knows that that is not the truth.

In the meanwhile, I’ve dropped off 3 of the batteries at Manbat’s Sunderland branch as they want to test them too. I’m not sure what all this testing is going to prove. My belief is that Brian at Adverc way back at the end of 2010 showed that he in fact had no real grasp of how batteries worked and advised me badly. The Numax’s are probably fine batteries if they’re not used much. But I specifically laid out how often I would use my batteries and what for, and I have all that info in emails.
Nevertheless, I expected that as Andy is deliberately trying to avoid a resolution to this, Manbat might take the matter off him and deal with him as a reseller.

Lets wait and see what happens when I go to have these new batteries fitted.