1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Question on my UPS

Post in 'The Green Room' started by olddawgsrule, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    I have a 2 Werker Type 31MDC batteries and run a 400 watt inverter from it.
    I bought a Sunforce 60 watt solar setup to charge it.

    The batteries are 3 years old now and I'm not getting a recharge from my panels.

    I've tested my panels for voltage and they're all producing.
    I'm assuming, with the battery draw, I should be able test amperage???

    That was the first question.

    I charged up the batteries with my car charger (6amp) and got them to 100%.
    Just hooked them up again (to check them) and found them at 50%.

    The panels should be giving me 5amps (optimal I realize)..

    I'm thinking the batteries need to be re-conditioned.
    Can they?
    Are they just old (3 years)?

    Maybe I'm bleeding back voltage... panels?, inverter?

    Do I just have the wrong batteries?

    Oh ya.... Are this panels the problem?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,570
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Don't know those specific batteries, but batteries are usually the first to go. Assuming they are lead-acid, 3yrs is no big deal if they were properly charged and floated the entire time. If they were stored near discharged for any period of time they are likely shot.

    To test the panels, read open circuit voltage and short circuit amps, they should match the specs on the panel.

    Edit: Looked up the batteries...they are gel-type. IIRC gel type cannot be reconditioned.
  3. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,585
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I agree, gel cells have a 2 to 3 year life span. Lead acids can be ruined in 6 months but if treated properly and equalized on occasion will last 10 years. If you want a "forever" battery nickel iron batteries will last a lifetime, but have singificant limitations.
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Werker is the industry standard for UPS batteries. I "have" had them go bad in 3 years, but typically they will run for 4 or 5. They do not deal with mistreatment well. They like to stay charged unless in use. Do not allow them to sit partially discharged. You should be able to measure amperage from your panels. At a peak of 5 amps, these should really not have a problem. There is usually very little vampire power involved with UPS. A little, but not much.
  5. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Arrived home in the daylight today and checked on my panels.
    To my disappointment, 3 panels seem to be down...
    Since there are only 4 to this setup... quite a loss...

    I checked them this past spring and all were working fine.

    Cleaned the contacts, nothing...
    Cut off the plug-in and tested from the wire... nothing...

    I'll be heading out there to remove one of the bad ones and open her up to test from the panel itself.
    Since I'm well past warranty, can't see the hurt in trying.

    With only 4 years with the panels, I just have a hard time believing the panel is bad.
    Hoping it's the wires or connection to the panels.

    Which leads me to the question.

    I've tried to solder wires to other panels I have and can't seem to do it right (won't stick)
    I also tried conductive epoxy, but found it to corrode fairly quickly (couple of months)

    What do you recommend make the connection?
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    When soldering, are you sure that the area to be soldered does not have a coating on it? Fine sand paper, pull a strip off, lay it across the end of the eraser on a pencil and scuff the area to be soldered. Use non-corrosive flux. Solder should stick.
  7. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,661
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    Also - be sure that when you solder that the surface you are soldering to is getting hot - the solder should flow onto it. Heat the surface and touch the cold solder onto it and it should melt and flow. Don't touch the solder to your iron and drip it onto the surface to solder.

    I've seen people heat the wire to be soldered and 'stick' it onto a cold contact and it won't stick.

    Note, however, that you don't want to spend a long time heating the surface - it has to be a quick heat of just the area you are soldering to avoid heating areas you don't want to and causing damage.
  8. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Yep - its called "tinning".
  9. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Appreciate the response!

    I have a 100/140watt soldering iron.
    Is this strong enough?

    It is an 'older Weller' and hopefully putting out what it should...
    Okay, so it was my Dad's, but I did say older...

    I'm not having much luck with it.
    Thinking I may need a new one.

    What would you recommend?
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    You should have more than enough power with the 100 watt setup. What size wire are you soldering?
  11. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Just dissected the first bad panel.
    23g wire on it.

    My other project panels I was trying to solder 17g wire it them.
    My theory was, if I'm running 17g to the house, then 17g on the panel.

    Unless told not to, I'll probably solder the 17g wire to repair the Sunforce panel.
    Yes, that means the panel is not bad, Whoa!
    I have voltage at the panel (not at the wires).
    The solder joint must have broke and it wasn't even mine, it was the factory's.
    Man do I feel better.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Just wondering if you iron is the type that is shaped like a gun?? If so, be very careful, you can overheat anything that is sensitive pretty darn easy with those. Its kinda like bringing a sledge hammer to pound in a finish nail.
  13. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Yes it is!
    I also have one that I call 'single tipped' like a pencil or wood burning tool.
    Have a feeling you're going to tell me to get a new tip and use that one...

    I'll check the wattage on it... should be 100 watts??
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Nope - that will probably be between 35-60 watts (depending on model/make). It really should be all that you need. You using flux?? If not, you should be (non corrosive stuff).
  15. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Will be this time for sure!
    I'll pick that up with the new tip.

    Thank you for the input!
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Yep - I have been micro/mini certified all the way up to leading in body work. Got a few T-shirts.
  17. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Forgot to ask...

    Stay with the 23g off the panel or up to the 17g wire?

    Short distance for these panels, 15 feet.
  18. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    The 17Ga is gonna be sturdier - BUT - 17GA is much more stiff and can put pressure on whatever you are soldering to. If this is something like a copper run on a circuit board, you may consider sticking with the small stuff. If this is a solder lug that you are attaching to, the 17 (typically it would be 16 or 18 - wire is of even sizes) will work just fine.

    Note: and your 23GA is gonna be either 22 or 24 GA.
  19. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    You're better at gauging my wire, that's for sure!
    I'm using my micrometer and averaging the measurement, then going to the conversion chart to get close....

    It's not 'lugged' so looks like I'll use the smaller wire to come off the panels into the house.
    I am working on a control panel to show me voltage/wattage (yet another project) and will come off that with the larger gauge wire (once set up).
    Still not certain where the batteries will find there final resting area (yes, yet another project) and may need the larger wire to travel the distance.

    Once again, thank you!
  20. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,759
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Check this out for wire size for distance/amp for 12V systems:
    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/amps-wire-gauge-d_730.html
  21. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Have the first of the 3 panels repaired!
    It was the solder joint (from the factory) that failed.

    Thank you all for your assistance.

    Ya, I have yet another question...

    It has always been my understanding that the array only works as good as it weakest point.
    With the 3 bad panels off the array, the batteries came up today.
    This enforces my belief.
    One good panel is better than 1 good and 3 bad.

    True?

    If so, then adding one of my 'project panels' (11 watt) to this array (15watt) would reduce the production?
    15 watt x 4 = 60 watt
    11 watt x 5 = 55 watt

    I figure there are a 1,000 other principals involved here that I have no idea of...
    But is the basic principal correct?
  22. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,661
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    You may want to consider posting on another forum such as http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/ as there are folks there who really do this sort of thing day in and day out (much like folks here know their wood and stoves).
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,570
    Loc:
    SE PA
    series or parallel? diodes?
  24. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    I will check them out.
  25. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Panels and batteries are wire in parallel to increase amp and hold voltage.
    Panels are not diode protected, but the charge controller is.

    The array panels enter a junction, then single wire to the charge controller.

    I figure with this setup I have no 'bleed back' from the battery, but could have effect from a dead panel.

    I'm working on a control panel to independently monitor each panel.
    Probably not the right place for this question, but I'll go for it.

    I will add a blocking diode for each panel to avoid this problem again.
    I'm assuming I only need to add it to the negative side (return side of power)??

Share This Page