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Old 01-12-2014, 04:55 PM   #51
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Larry,
That was a very good description of the equalization stage of battery charging. I understand what it is doing, I am not sure I understand the long term results. Your question made me go back to the Interstate website and check the numbers and it is very clear that the recommended levels for charging Interstate batteries are significantly higher than similar numbers for Trojan.

For the bulk charge rate, that is applied when the battery is below 80% charged, the rate of charge is 14.4 VA. Once the battery reaches 80% charge Interstate recommends a charge of 15.5 for 2-4 hours, they call this the absorption stage. In addition they call for voltages even higher, that of 15.6 for the equalization stage that you so ably described. The final charge rate is 13.2 for maintenance or what some call a trickle charge.

All this is being done by something called a smart charger. What are smart chargers? The primary requirement of a smart charger is it has the ability to communicate and measure conditions on the battery and then make adjustments. It is preprogrammed to look for certain benchmarks and then automatically perform a switch. Most solar controllers are smart with 3 or 4 stages, the built in charger in the Escape from WFCO is smart and has three stages. Many homeowners have a portable battery charger that works off household current. Some many be smart, some are for only one stage such as a trickle charge and some may have buttons or switches to move between stages.

All smart chargers are going to make these transitions automatically, temperatures can come into play, so some solar controllers have options for temperature sensors to adjust for such changes. Some smart chargers do not have the equalization stage. The big variable on smart chargers, and this is the key statement to this discussion, is only a few are adjustable as to voltage rates. Most are preprogrammed to perform their events at a certain voltage and you have to live with that setting. If you take anything away from these pages of posts let it be that you will benefit from a solar controller that you can control and adjust voltages. The battery discussion points out how under charged we are leaving our batteries with chargers and controllers that do not provide the voltages that are recommended.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:12 PM   #52
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Paul, thanks for all these posts. If I'm reading everything correctly ( and being a newbie, chances are I'm in error), the rates you just posted are not reached by the Tristar TS-45, which is apparently one of the desirable controller options.

Well, at least not reached by any of their pre-programmed selectable options, and I don't seem too interested in delving in further and doing my own software customizations.

From what I've read on Trojan batteries, their recommended rates are slightly lower. The available options for the TS-45 do seem to match up nicely with the Trojan numbers I've seen.

My foggy mind seems to have come up with 2 choices: (a) get an Interstate battery that's better than a Trojan battery, but one that I can't optimally charge, or (b) get a Trojan T-105 that I can optimally charge.

Am I way off base here? j
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:14 PM   #53
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I think you have it correct. I sympathize with you on reading the TriStar user manual, or any of these user manuals for that matter. Yes, short of a software customization, it appears the TriStar peaks out at 15.0 VA.

I just finished reading about differences between Trojan and Interstate batteries, trying to see if there is a valid review that distinguishes one as better. All I could find was anecdotal comments, like mine lasted 8 years and I had one bad cell etc. There does not seem to be a difference between them that could be measured and validated. I have an email into ETI asking if the Trojans are available on a new trailer delivery.

Now I am not so sure it matters which one.

A third alternative would be to find a replacement for the TriStar that does reach the desired levels. I have only considered the TriStar and Xantec, the Xantec claims to do it. There maybe others.

I have heard the claim that keeping a battery above 80% charge, rather than the 50% that we all live and die on, will result in longer battery life. No proof, just a claim,
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:22 PM   #54
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Thanks very much for replying. I seem to feel most comfortable with the Tristar, so I am thinking T-105. I would be interested in any feedback from ETI about the Trojans.....batteries.

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Old 01-12-2014, 06:27 PM   #55
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I went with Trojan, even though they have lousy graphics and are a ugly brown colour.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:17 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I went with Trojan, even though they have lousy graphics and are a ugly brown colour.
That's it then - I'm sticking with Interstate!
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:58 AM   #57
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For me, this has been a great discussion. One last shot... after reading the last post... #56, I spoke with a vehicle tech acquaintance of mine who retired a few years ago. He stated that no charger can determine a batteries charging specs. Most mechanical shops have chargers that can be programmed by the techs to the specs of a specific battery. This includes all stages... bulk, absorption, float & equalization. Interesting though, he said that the chargers are mainly used to set-up a new battery for installation (out of the box, through the charger and then into the vehicle). This includes crank as well as deep cycle batteries. When it comes to batteries that have been used for some time and are showing signs of failing, this commercial charge can help in giving the batteries a little more life. Unfortunately, in most cases, the disease that the batteries have at this point is terminal and it is best for them to get their affairs in order... they're not long for this world!

His two suggestions... find out from current owners what batteries they have had, how long have they had them, how much and how have they used them (including charging... online & storage) and like that "goofy bunny", do they just keep going & going! His view is... if there hasn't been a "tsunami" of quick battery burn out, then chances are very good that ETI has designed a very good converter/solar/battery configuration.

Second suggestion... take them out occasionally and have them "blasted" in a battery (mechanical) shop. How often... yes!

I'm done...

Travel Safe...
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:06 AM   #58
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If anyone is interested and not seen it before, the site referenced below has a couple calculators that are useful for calculating proper solar array size and orientation. Quite a difference in the roof mount "flat" orientation as compared to optimal angle if adjustable.

Solar Irradiance - calculate the solar energy available on your site

Solar Angle Calculator | Solar Panel Angle Calculator
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:34 AM   #59
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Nice! For the SW it looks like not too much different between optimal angle and flat installation except for the winter months (Nov-Feb).
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:48 AM   #60
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The same numbers hold true here in Wisconsin. If you have sun, flat is almost better than an angle in June and July. The bigger variable for us is tree cover. With the state heavily forested, having portable solar has distinct advantages over roof top mounted.
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