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.
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.
My friend sent me a screenshot from a weather site, the red blob appears to be over the Hebrides where I am….Force 12!
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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!
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.
I’ve had enough. They’re blatantly ignoring me so I’ve sent a formal complaint into Manbat’s head office. Here’s the email:
In January of this year I made contact with a chap called Bryan from
Adverc. We discussed my battery needs after me giving him detailed
information as to my usage in a motorhome, and we finally decided that
the Numax XV24MF would suit my needs best.
I ordered them and they were delivered in February from Manbat’s
Bristol depot, I had not known Brian was a reseller but that’s a minor
The charging regime I had been told to use by the Bristol branch was a
cycle for Sealed Lead Acid batteries, as they are.
By May they were significantly reduced in performance. I ended up at the
Chesterfield branch where Steve Davies took the batteries in to test.
After one week the test revealed that all batteries were down in
capacity by at least 25%, however one was as low as 64% efficiency,
clearly there was a problem.
Mr Davies after having seen my robust and careful planned setup,
(wiring, charger etc) deduced that the problem with the batteries was
probably to do with the incorrect charging regime that Bristol had given
me, however he felt that they may ‘recover’ over time.
Mr Davies pointed out that they should be charged as Open Lead Acid
batteries, even though they aren’t.
Tayna who also sell the same battery insisted that they were charged as
SLA’s, rather than OLA’s however as Mr Davies is branch manager at
Chesterfield I changed the charging regime to suit his recommendation.
There was no appreciable difference in the batteries’ performance,
however they continued degrading until I finally contacted Mr Davies
again to point out that although the maximum draw per day was about 45
amps (9 hours at 5 amps), 3 of the 86 ahr batteries in parallel were
only lasting 9 hours (45 amps in total). I should have very easily
expected 120 ahrs from that setup.
I am now using a different laptop and my hourly draw is about 3 to 3.5
amps max, yet 3 x 86ahr of the batteries in parallel still only last a
cumulative 12 hours.
Mr Davies has been very helpful and patient, but when I contacted him to
let him know that the batteries were getting worse, he replied that he
did not now know what else could be done. My reply was that clearly they
need to be replaced or me refunded. I didn’t hear back again from him
for over a month, so I emailed again and was told now that he would
contact Brian from Adverc, and ask Brian for all of the details of me
that are on file. I’m not certain what that means, but that was over 2
weeks ago now and my emails and telephone calls remain unanswered.
This is obviously costing me a lot of money in having to run the
generator to charge the batteries every night, rather than once a week,
and is unsustainable, I simply do not have this amount of money to spend.
I certainly have no specific complaint about Mr Davies or Adverc, but
the time delay now is several months and nothing seems to be happening,
and I really need a resolution to this problem.
I am happy to supply extra information regarding my setup as and if you
may require it.
I emailed Steve Davies as weeks are going by and nothing is happening. I got the most amazing email from him which states that I have lost about 1/3 of total capacity of the battery bank, and he’s blaming that on the charging regime being wrong when I first got them.
As I see it if he is correct, that’s Manbat’s responsibility as they were the ones who told me what the charging voltages were. In fact when Steve first told me the voltages I wa using were incorrect, I emailed the Bristol branch again and asked them for the charging voltages, and yet again they told me the wrong ones!
Anyway, I’ve lost 1/3 of my power and Steve’s last line in his email was that he didn’t know what to do, and I should keep him posted! My gast was bloody well flabbered I can tell you!
I had to take the batteries into the Cheshire branch last week. The front seats had to come out so I could disconnect them and take them all out. Manbat loaned me a couple of batteries whilst they charged mine on their charger for a couple of days to see if they could make any sense of what’s going on. One of them tested at 67% capacity and they’re only 4 months old lol Something seriously wrong here. I’ve emailed head office and will try to get some movement on this!
Ahhh just a few months into my Wales trip and the batteries are losing capacity. What’s going on! I’ve had many phone calls to Adverc, Brian is hardly ever there and it seems they just don’t want to deal with me.
When first installed I was using the laptop 40 hours a week for work, the lights, water pump etc, and of course watching the odd DVD as well, and they were lasting a full week before needing charged. Now I can squeeze 4 days out of them. I don’t know if I’ve got these charging voltages incorrect, but on day of delivery I rang Bristol to check them out. I’ve now spoken to the manager of the Cheshire branch, Steve Davies, who says that those voltages are incorrect! Grrr. Lets hope I can recover them then by using the correct voltages.
After several discussions with Brian at Adverc about what kind of batteries I ought to have, I have had delivered today 6 brand new batteries from Manbat Bristol, they are Numax CXV XV24MF sealed lead acid batteries, and Brian reckons they’re just what I need. They’re 85 ahrs capacity so that’s a total of 510 ahrs. Lets hope my power problems are over 🙂
Almost £500 in total so lets hope this solves my power problems once and for all!
I was staying with friend sin Wiltshire so they came from the Bristol branch of Manbat. I had to ring them to find out the charging regime, as there was no notes with the batteries but hey ho, I hold out great hopes for them now 🙂
Last night I was sitting working on the laptop when I smelled a most peculiar smell. I had the gennie running, and as the smell was coming from under where I sat, where the 2 charging units and the 5 batteries are fitted I thought I’d better move pretty sharpish like so I jumped up and switched off the gennie, then came back with the fire extinguisher and lifted the cushions. . . Yes … my toast was done.
No actually nothing had burned, but the mains charging unit was so hot I could not touch it. I suspect it was the thin plastic film that protects the fascia from scratches that was smelling, as it was curled and sad looking. That got binned. testament to the robust build of the Sterling charger, it appears to have suffered no ill effects.
So tonight I set about finding out why that had happened.
First thing I did was check all connections, then I disconnected all batteries bar one, and set the generator away. Small drop in speed as it chugged away so that was fine, I connected the second one, another small drop but that was fine, and I connected them all one by one until I came to the last one, the brand spanking shiny sealed Elecsol that they sent me as replacement for the one that blew up. Nah I thought, as I realised that the magic eye was red. Oops. It shouldn’t be. So I connected that one up, started the gennie and … the gennie struggled to cope. It was as if it was under massive load. So I disconnected it straight away, as last night when I smelled the smell, the charger was actually on float stage and had been for an hour, so theoretically all batteries should have been totally charged.
Very weirdly, the charger is so hot to touch tonight too, even though that new battery is disconnected. I really can’t say I’ve ever noticed it running hot before.
Anyway, out of 7 Elecsols I’ve owned 2 have failed so that’s about 28% failure rate which is enough for me to say, enough. I don’t even want this one replaced. I think I’ll just go with standard wet lead acid batteries from now on as I’ve never had any problems with them in the past. (If you’ve never seen a battery that’s exploded, check the photo out. Remember this was full of sulphuric acid too. The mud is from where it was thrown very quickly out of the door of the van.)
I’m not deliberately dissing Elecsol here, I have no axe to grind at all. Just reporting back the experiences I have. I will ring Sterling tomorrow though to find out if that charger should run that hot, as the B to B charger runs that hot too.