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Old 12-31-2012, 03:31 PM
NoTea4U NoTea4U is offline
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@augoldminer

Good feedback to which I do not have a conclusive answer. I can only share my research and personal experience.

I have read that oil was used in rail batteries, telephone backups, and miner's lamps to minimize the need for electrolyte top ups. It makes sense, because that equipment often ran for decades, or sat for months or even years between use. The one way to damage NiFe batteries is to allow them to go dry. Oil would limit electrolyte evaporation, reducing the frequency of required servicing and limiting loss due to drying.

Carbon uptake is the typical reason that electrolyte needs to be replaced, so limiting the uptake rate would be a positive measure. Mineral oil should extend the periods between servicing. Even so, I have not seen any considerable carbon uptake to date.

My batteries have been in service for two years. The electrolyte is still clear as water, so carbon doesn't appear to be building up at any significant rate. I have required about 2 liters of water to top up fluid levels over those two years, so the rate of evaporation is also very low. I don't have recombination caps or oil to stem evaporation, and was expecting the batteries to require more frequent top-ups. I suspect the slow charge from the solar panels is limiting water consumption. I have read that water consumption results primarily from a high rate of charge as well as overcharging/equalization cycles. Case design also seems important. My battery cases have electrolyte plugs with a small vent of less than 1mm diameter, so there's no air circulation outside of battery breathing.

When I consider my low water consumption and the results of visual inspection, I conclude that the usage and design are conducive to a long electrolyte life. It may be that I should add mineral oil, but I travel a lot and those batteries jostle a fair bit. Looking back with the knowledge I have now, I'm comfortable adding oil when the batteries are permanently situated.

I would love to ask a battery chemist about the duration of effects of mineral oil contact with the plates. I would change my decision if the effect lasted only a few days, for my draw is minimal even at peak. OTOH, it could be a few battery cycles. I only cycle my capacity once every two weeks. The batteries may seem small with relation to house consumption, but they're huge compared to my needs within the RV. That makes a few cycles more relevant for me than they might be for others.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:58 PM
Optimist Optimist is offline
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Firefly has a carbon foam battery plate for lead acid. I wonder how that would work, with a nickel oxide fill and a porous iron plate for this chemistry? Guess I'll have to pony up some coin for the foam plates and give it a try....
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:30 PM
NoTea4U NoTea4U is offline
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Hello Iron Bran,

There aren't a lot of people with a solid grasp on NiFe. It's a pleasure to have you join!

My configuration is odd in that I sized my panels to fit the charge profile for my NiFe cells, so I use a custom breaker box in place of a charge controller. It's quite inefficient when compared to a system with an MPPT controller; I will probably add one when I drop a third panel in. Outback makes the only controller I found which will handle the charge profile of a 10 cell 12V NiFe battery bank. Both Outback and Xantrex controllers accommodate the larger battery banks as you mention, provided you drop cells out. Strangely, the Outback controllers will handle 20 and 40 cells configurations of NiFe, but their inverters don't so it's somewhat of a moot point.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:05 PM
NoTea4U NoTea4U is offline
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Time for an update. I was just out at my RV preparing it for another 8 months of off-the-grid outdoor living. Last January, I charged my spare NiFe battery to full and left it disconnected in storage. My goal was to test the self-discharge rate. It's been 13 months and the cell has fluctuated in temperature from -25C to +30C. Electrolyte remains clear but there are a couple small carbon deposits that almost look like bubbles attached to the casing. The multimeter reports 1.30 volts which represents 94.5% full. That's nothing short of remarkable, as self-discharge rates are supposed to be an NiFe weakness.

I had to verify my results, but I don't have the equipment to load test a single cell and I don't want to repeat the voltage test over another 13 months. Instead, I measured the voltage of my 10 cell battery bank which has been idle five months. It registered 1.42 volts per cell. The power curve for my cells states that 1.40 volts is 100% full.

I'll try a load test on the bank of 10 cells tomorrow, just to confirm the bank is performing at full capacity, and then I'll report back.

@Iron Bran - There was a question a while ago about using mineral oil to reduce CO2 uptake in the electrolyte. I would appreciate your position on it. My cells do not have mineral oil in them because they are in an RV which I've rigged for back roads. The electrolyte sloshes around a fair bit in transit and my concern is that applying mineral oil would potentially result in a temporary oil coating on the electrodes after driving. Should I be concerned about this? I typically discharge my cells at C/210 (yes, I use power at one two hundred and tenth of the cells' rated capacity).
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:39 PM
NoTea4U NoTea4U is offline
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Okay, so the load test completed with the bank of 10 cells producing more than they're rated for at full capacity. Safe to say the self-discharge rate of the NiFe batteries is exceptionally low.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:33 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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To: NoTea4U

I am new to this forum and noticed that you have purchased NiFe batteries. I am interested in replacing an existing Lead acid bank with NiFe. Are you still happy with your NiFe batteries?
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:37 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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Thank you for educating many of us on the NiFe batteries. I am new to this post and was wondering if you are satisfied with your purchase. Today's date is 09-30-13 and I was wondering if you have experienced any problems with your NiFe batteries so far.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:40 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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I would send you a private message - but according to the rules of this forum it says that I must post a minimum of 5 times before the private message privilege is granted - among others. I am really curious about your experience because the NiFe batteries are a very expensive purchase when compared to other comparable batteries.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:41 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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I have looked into purchasing LiPO4, Lead Acid, Nickel Cadmium, and NiFe - and after reviewing them all - I am leaning to the NiFe - simply because I believe they are more robust.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:43 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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The problem with LiPO4 -(lithium ion) - is that the quality control must be extremely high as even (1) or (2) of the individual cells could throw off the whole battery pack. The replacement of individuals cells are not so simple on a lithium ion battery pack - at least so far.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:41 PM
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sarco2000 sarco2000 is offline
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Very interesting thread, but I just can't get past the huge increase in cost/AH for the iron batteries.

Using the link TANSTAF1 posted, for $2718 you get a 12V system with 366AH (@100 hr rate) at a cost of $7.43 per AH.

The Rolls S-530 6 volt has 532Ah (@100 hr rate). At a price of $680 for 2 batteries to get 12V, is $1.28 per AH. Or less than a fifth of the cost of the iron. If you spend $2718 (just doing math) you can get 2126 AH from the Rolls.

http://www.wholesalesolar.com/produc...etterolls.html

But the Rolls will need to be replaced periodically.

To get your moneys worth, in terms of total power over the lifetime of the batteries, the iron batteries would have to last five times longer, or produce enough extra power during their lifetime (because you can discharge to a deeper level) to off-set some of the cost.

Do you think its worth it?

The up-front cost for a whole home system will probably prevent me from going this way.

What are the effects of mixing old and new iron batteries? Which I think is a big no-no with lead? Perhaps a person could start small and add on as money allowed.
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:53 PM
G.webster G.webster is offline
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Glad you bumped this sarco, excellent thread.
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Old 01-01-2014, 10:58 PM
EMP123 EMP123 is offline
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This is my first post, I have lurked here time to time. I have been researching NiFe cells for off grid applications.
There is a lot of debate over places like beutilityfree and Iron Edison claims. Google Bill Blake and NiFe. That said, it appears most if not all U.S. suppliers are merely importing Changhong cells. On page 6 of their manual they have a DOD vs Cycle life, at 100% depth they are claiming 1000 cycles. That is far from infinite. Once again you can google Changchong and find the PDF manual easily.
NiFe have some very strong advantages, but to some degree the US dealers appear to be selling snake oil.

If you want to make your own cells google noonco NiFe.
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Old 10-01-2014, 10:00 PM
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NoTea,

Thanks for reaching out with the PM. I would not recommend using mineral oil for exactly the reason you stated. The coating on the plates is not temporary, it will permanently damage the battery. The same thing happens if you were to run the battery below the minimum fill line, where the oil would coat the plates. It's also very messy and will cover the plastic case of the battery with a black mess when you do clean them out.
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Old 10-01-2014, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricalSolutions View Post
The problem with LiPO4 -(lithium ion) - is that the quality control must be extremely high as even (1) or (2) of the individual cells could throw off the whole battery pack. The replacement of individuals cells are not so simple on a lithium ion battery pack - at least so far.
Also, you cannot charge a LiFePO4 battery at below-freezing temperatures, or you will damage the battery. This is not ideal for an off-grid application.
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Old 10-01-2014, 11:00 PM
arleigh arleigh is offline
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I sure appreciate your input ,and for t cost ,I am settled with dealing with lead acid 6 volt deep cycle . they are easier to deal with .
If you install diodes in line for your solar panels , you don't have to shut them off at night .
I built my own charge controller using an automotive voltage regulator as a guide.
That way, I can at any time, alter my system, and add more batteries or solar panels.
Each panel , each battery ,each generator , and wind mill , are wired on a metered switch panel ,so I can check the input/out put on each component.
A battery that shows a problem I can switch out at the panel and get to it at my convenience.
I was intrigued when I first read on iron batteries but the price scared me away.
Glad to see some one had the courage to do it.
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Old 10-01-2014, 11:39 PM
DaOgre DaOgre is offline
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thanks alot as I had not heard of this before now . I will be building my own solar panels and battery bank was my next bit of research . I really only want a few things running after dark . You say this bank you have is for your 30 , ft RV . I have a 28 ft RV at my ranch . Still trying to fix road to get a 70' mobile home out to it . After that I will build my house and use the mobile home as a guest house lol . Sorry but old and a bit crippled . I can't sleep n the RV comfortably . I wonder what kinda draws ur using with 100 amps . Using some neighbors experiences and his battery pack being in a shack , here in AZ the summer heat really messes with his efficiency . So I plan to make my Battery room under ground to have a stable temp all year round . How would wouls they work in the heat?
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:18 AM
ElectricalSolutions ElectricalSolutions is offline
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Default What Size Is Your Battery Bank

I am glad to hear you are satisfied with your NiFe batteries. What size is your battery bank? And what size is your individual cells.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:19 AM
Fighting-Chance Fighting-Chance is offline
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I've read that you should not add extra batteries to a lead acid battery bank after it has been set up and used for a period of time. Something about a memory effect that gets all messed up when extra batteries are added.

Do nickel iron batteries have this memory effect problem? If I buy a few nickel iron batteries, put them to use, then add a few more a year later, will this damage my battery bank in any way, assuming the new batteries are the same as the older batteries in the bank?

If I could add batteries over time, expanding the capacity of my battery bank, nickel iron batteries could be bought and added over time as money allows.
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:47 PM
willthrill81 willthrill81 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fighting-Chance View Post
I've read that you should not add extra batteries to a lead acid battery bank after it has been set up and used for a period of time. Something about a memory effect that gets all messed up when extra batteries are added.

Do nickel iron batteries have this memory effect problem? If I buy a few nickel iron batteries, put them to use, then add a few more a year later, will this damage my battery bank in any way, assuming the new batteries are the same as the older batteries in the bank?

If I could add batteries over time, expanding the capacity of my battery bank, nickel iron batteries could be bought and added over time as money allows.
That's another advantage of NiFe batteries; you can add more when you want to. The problem you'll run into is that as noted in the OP, you don't buy these batteries by just running down to your local automotive store. You typically buy them from a company on the other side of the globe and have to drive to a port to pick them up unless you pay exorbitant fees for shipping 'hazardous' materials. Buying these piecemeal is not a viable option for most people. If you can't cough up the high price up front, you probably shouldn't consider them.

I really appreciate the OP's information and experiences. That being said, it's still hard for me to justify spending $1 per watt hour on NiFe batteries when I can buy lead acid batteries for $.08 per watt hour, even if I do need three times more capacity. In the long, long run, it's probably cheaper to go with the NiFe, but the breakeven point is going to be in the decades. When you factor the time value of money into it, there's no way that NiFe will be cheaper, even if they do last for 50 years.

But for those who are focused on TEOTWAKI, NiFe are the obvious choice for one simple reason: they will probably last the rest of your life with proper care.
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