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Old 12-20-2015, 05:26 PM   #1
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solar monitor reading?

We have a 2012 5.0 with the go power solar monitor. It was reading 12.6v and 60% at Thanksgiving. I checked it today and it has dropped to 11.9 and 51%. It is being stored in an open ended pole barn so it gets some light but not direct sunlight. Last winter the batteries (2-6volt) did not have any problems but this year they do not seem to be holding a charge. I did add some distilled water to the batteries prior to storage. The disconnect switch is off. Are my batteries nearing the end of their live?
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Old 12-20-2015, 05:49 PM   #2
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They should not be near end of life. With proper care they could last eight years. Some possible causes of battery failure, not necessarialy yours, would be frequent discharges below 50%, lack of water, subject to extreme high temps, or something mechanical on the battery. Mechanical might be a failed cell or the need for equalization.

The first test is fully charging, wait an hour and then measure each battery. They should both measure .15 volts of each other. The second test is to use a hydrometer on each cell. All cells should measure within 30 points of each other. You will need a volt meter and hydrometer, very inexpensive tools.

Performing an equalization will be more expensive and require a battery charger capable of doing the equalization stage and doing it at the recommended voltage from Interstate of 15.6 volts. I do not have a recommended model that I know achieves those rates.
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Old 12-20-2015, 06:06 PM   #3
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In a video on the Trojan site the narrator said you can do an equalization charge by charging the battery normally and then unplug charger from the mains for a minute and plug it back into the mains.
Here is link to video:

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Old 12-20-2015, 06:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
In a video on the Trojan site the narrator said you can do an equalization charge by charging the battery normally and then unplug charger from the mains for a minute and plug it back into the mains.
Here is link to video:
This doesn't make sense to me, as equalization requires a higher voltage. Maybe someone could give me a reasoning behind what Trojan says that would help me to understand.
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Old 12-20-2015, 07:11 PM   #5
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:38 PM   #6
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I wonder if the monitor function of the controller sucks any battery power when there is not enough sun for the panels to generate.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:33 PM   #7
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I wonder if the monitor function of the controller sucks any battery power when there is not enough sun for the panels to generate.
According to the GoPower manual: 6 milli-amps for the controller, 10 ma for the display.

In rough numbers, that will drain 10 amp-hours from the battery per month.

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Old 12-20-2015, 10:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
... Mechanical might be a failed cell or the need for equalization. ...
Mechanical could also include: loose connections, corrosion, broken wires.

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Old 12-20-2015, 11:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivanputski View Post
We have a 2012 5.0 with the go power solar monitor. It was reading 12.6v and 60% at Thanksgiving. I checked it today and it has dropped to 11.9 and 51%. It is being stored in an open ended pole barn so it gets some light but not direct sunlight. Last winter the batteries (2-6volt) did not have any problems but this year they do not seem to be holding a charge. I did add some distilled water to the batteries prior to storage. The disconnect switch is off. Are my batteries nearing the end of their live?
You had it stored in the same position last year? I would move it to get direct light on the panel for a day and see the difference.
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Old 12-21-2015, 01:02 AM   #10
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I would have said "watching the Trojan video", but I prefer to read documentation, such as this from Trojan
Quote:
FLOODED BATTERIES ONLY

Equalizing is an overcharge performed on flooded lead acid batteries after they have been fully charged.

It reverses the buildup of negative chemical effects like stratification, a condition where acid concentration is greater at the bottom of the battery than at the top. Equalizing also helps to remove sulfate crystals that might have built up on the plates. If left unchecked, this condition, called sulfation, will reduce the overall capacity of the battery.

Many experts recommend that batteries be equalized periodically, ranging anywhere from once a month to once or twice per year. However, Trojan only recommends equalizing when low or wide ranging specific gravity (+/- .015) are detected after fully charging a battery.

Step-By-Step Equalizing
  1. Verify the battery(s) are flooded type.
  2. Remove all loads from the batteries.
  3. Connect battery charger.
  4. Set charger for the equalizing voltage (See Table 2 in the Charging section). If your charger doesn’t have an equalization mode, you can unplug the charger and re-plug it back in. This also will conduct the equalization charge.
  5. Start charging batteries.
  6. Batteries will begin gassing and bubbling vigorously.
  7. Take specific gravity readings every hour.
  8. Equalization is complete when specific gravity values no longer rise during the gassing stage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
In a video on the Trojan site the narrator said you can do an equalization charge by charging the battery normally and then unplug charger from the mains for a minute and plug it back into the mains.
Same thing as in the maintenance guide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
This doesn't make sense to me, as equalization requires a higher voltage. Maybe someone could give me a reasoning behind what Trojan says that would help me to understand.
I believe what they're saying is that a charger normally starts by trying to apply the final charging voltage, then steps down for the finishing stage - by restarting the charger, it goes back to the higher charging voltage. This technique is being used as a substitute for a specific equalization mode on the charger.

They may not have mentioned it in the video, but the written version does say to set the charger for the equalizing voltage. The table which the instructions reference is a bit higher on the same page, and shows an equalization voltage of 15.5V, so perhaps they consider the "daily charge" setting of 14.8V close enough; for comparison, the float voltage that a charger should drop to when completely done is listed as only 13.2V.
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