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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/4/2016

It's been a heck of a long journey, but we're finally there -- the new battery stack is online! Tanglewood is now being fed directly from the Outback 2700RE. We got everything hooked up Saturday. I wanted to wait a couple of days to post so I'd have some data.


In retrospect the final bit (hooking up all of the battery interconnects and such) was pretty benign. There was the oxide grease you're supposed to smear on terminals to help prevent any slow corrosion, and of course it was a bit stiff being in a tin in the shed for the last month. We stuck it up on the inverters for a few minutes to warm up, then used our fingers to smear it around as needed.

It rained off and on of course (so much for predictions of a partly sunny day!) but we were inside so it didn't matter too much. We discovered that I'd installed a couple of the support braces upside down (the grounding screw holes are only along one edge), but once we figured that out we just routed differently. By late afternoon we were done, we gave the house a head's up that we were cutting power, and then we changed things over.

By 1700 we were online with the new system!

The system didn't have much time (or sunlight -- it was overcast and rainy) to charge up but it did yeoman's work overnight, only dropping to 51.2V by 0600 (this was Saturday-into-Sunday night). By contrast the old system had often dropped to around 47.6V or so by then, and (remember) the system really wasn't fully charged thanks to the lack of sunlight (and the fact the batts had been sitting along the edge of the road for a month, I'd guess). On Sunday-into-Monday (overnight last night), it only dropped to 52.0V...Sweet!

This is exactly the range of performance I was hoping for! The deep amp-hour capacity of the new batteries (2,288 amp hours vs. 420 for the Interstates they replaced, and the 225 amp-hours of the older Deka gels) ensures the system voltage drops much more slowly than before. We're still using the same overall amount of power, but we're pulling from a much bigger pool now (over five times larger than with the Interstates). I expect tonight's performance to potentially be better than last night's since they batteries are finally getting a bright, sunny day of charging.

I do have some complaints. If anything the instructions for Float/Absorb settings seem to be even worse with these batteries than with the others I've dealt with, which is just amazing to me. The Outback equipment doesn't let me set some parameters as fine as what the stack supports (such as amp-hour capacity), which is annoying. Sometimes we had a bit of trouble sussing out the instructions as it seems that Outback gives you a few extra pieces for various configurations, but those aren't really spelled out explicitly anywhere as "optional" so you inevitably wonder if you're doing it right or missed a step somewhere.

But those are small things really and I'm sure they'll not fix them. Going forward, I've still got a couple of chores to do up at the shed--the last of the old Dekas still have to be hauled up for disposal, and there's trash to be cleaned up and tools to be moved back to the house. But that can all be done over the course of the summer, and it's time to turn my attention to other tasks at long last.

This is looking REAL good....and it's appropriate that it's Independence Day! :)

Steven in Colorado

Photos

The stack, all connected with battery covers (big plastic covers you can kinda see reflections on) in place. A thing of beauty.
The Mate's battery capacity reading. It wouldn't let me enter "2288" so I rounded up. Annoying but a small thing.


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