Episode 52: BIG Solar BATTERY Bank UPDATE for the Off Grid camper

small off grid battery bank

This just in ~ BIG BATTERY UPDATE in the off grid camper! If your a regular listener to the podcast you are aware of some of the problems with my deep cycle batteries not holding a charge from the solar panels. Due to the heat I have not been able to stay out here in the camper all day long in order to keep an eye on the batteries during an equalizing cycle. First and foremost I want to say I am not an expert here but I am learning very quickly! lol I have been having an issue with the batteries not holding a charge. The solar panels were putting out electricity. The charge controller was supplying the off grid battery bank with the proper DC power in order to charge the batteries up. The issue ultimately wound up being with the deep cycle batteries themselves. I have 3 deep cycle batteries in my off grid battery bank in total with a fourth battery on the side. The fourth battery is a gel cell battery where as the other 3 are lead acid deep cycle batteries. A gel cell battery is sensitive to overcharge so this is why it is not hooked up to the main off grid power bank.low solar battery

After figuring out that all three batteries in the off grid solar power system were low on fluids I researched on how to correctly top them off. It turns out that all three deep cycle batteries needed to be topped off with distilled water. If by chance you found this this episode of Off The Grid Podcast in seeking an answer to your own deep cycle marine batteries not holding or keeping a charge then please research thoroughly. I found that you can not use tap water, spring water, or filtered water for topping off a battery. Only use distilled water because other trace elements in waters can cause calcification as well as other issues with the plates inside your lead acid battery cells. It took about two thirds of a gallon of distilled water between the three of them. Time would tell as to weather or not this recent lesson in off grid solar power problem with the battery bank was going to work. Crossing my fingers and holding my breath a moment I decided to hook everything back up so the solar panels would charge the batteries the next day. Just because your of the grid does not mean you do not need power. Well.. um I guess ultimately you don’t but it sure makes thing easier. Really the only thing I want right now is to have enough power here in the off grid camper to be able to run a refrigerator. This would give me the ability to refrigerate and preserve food like normal! lol I couldn’t wait to find out if this was going to work or not.

If topping the off grid batteries off with distilled water and then running a couple of water for deep cycle batteriesequalization cycles did not work then this was going to be a $200 – $250 mistake. Why a semi-costly mistake you ask? Because I bought the deep cycle batteries used. Comments, questions, or lessons anyone? If your off the grid solar power system does have an equalize feature integrated within your charge controller please use caution before using. Why be careful equalizing your battery bank? Because running the equalizing feature charges the batteries at a slightly higher voltage causing the lead acid battery cells to literately boil. Use caution because when equalizing deep cycle batteries because the boiling is meant to clean the plates within the cells themselves. Again I am not an expert but I have learned a lot in the short while of my off grid journey. If you are having an issue with your battery bank draining and I can help I will. Yup.. today’s episode of the podcast motto rang true. “Its not what you have its what you know”.

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Save money ~ If your running a solar powered battery bank check your levels regularly!
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please post and share them here or Contact me!
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September 22nd, 2015 by