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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone had any dealings with Iron Edison Battery Co?

I saw a thread on here from a couple of years ago about Ni-Fe batteries generically and people's experiences seemed mostly negative, but I know a couple three years is several generations of charge controllers, transformers, etc.

I got a couple quotes from Iron Edison for a 5kW system (one battery back up and one grid-tie). The grid tie quote was $9.6k which seemed about right. The battery backup was $37.7k, which puts it out of my league...
 

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How big was the battery bank on the 37k deal ? You can buy Trojan or Deka 400amp/hr L-16 6v batteries for under $300 if you shop. With care, those are 10 year batteries. 5k gets you an 800a/hr 48v bank....a decent reserve unless you're an all electric house.

Who knows what battery technology will be in 10 years ? They are working hot and heavy on it...the "holy grail" of alternative energy is storage, and my guess is there will be wonderful stuff around when you need a new set.
 

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For the batteries the quote said: Nickel Iron (Ni-Fe) Battery - Amp Hours Capacity: 400 Ah @ 5hr, 450 Ah @ 20hr; Battery Voltage: 48 Volt.

I'm leaning toward just going grid tied for the time being and waiting a while to add the battery backup and considering my options then. I'd rather spend more money now for a system that won't be as much maintenance going forward, but 37k would be a substantial portion of our building budget.
 

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For the batteries the quote said: Nickel Iron (Ni-Fe) Battery - Amp Hours Capacity: 400 Ah @ 5hr, 450 Ah @ 20hr; Battery Voltage: 48 Volt.
Yeah, for 27k difference, I'd expect one HECK a lot more battery bank than that.


QUOTE=BohemianWaxwing;7294647]
I'm leaning toward just going grid tied for the time being and waiting a while to add the battery backup and considering my options then. I'd rather spend more money now for a system that won't be as much maintenance going forward, but 37k would be a substantial portion of our building budget.[/QUOTE]

Well, the bad news is it simply isn't that easy to add a battery bank down the road. Grid tie only inverters don't work with battery banks....you need off grid ( or hybrid grid tie/off grid ) inverters. You'll need charge controllers, more disconnects, so on and so forth. You'll basically start with your solar panels, and begin all over.....and even the wiring on them will have to be configured differently most likely.

PART of that 27k difference above has to do with more equipment required on a battery based system other than the batteries....but not THAT much more....assuming you deducted the grid tie stuff from the 9.6k system to start with. You ought to be left with low-mid 20k to spend on batteries....which would get you a heck of a nice battery bank !
 

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Andy's nailed this answer -- you need to decide the grid-tie or off-grid question upfront or you will pay a lot of extra costs later on to make the switch. (I'm grid-tied with battery backup, i.e. hybrid.)

I've heard lots of conflicting things about NiFe batteries -- everything from they can be heavily discharged with no problems to they aren't any better in discharge depth than lead batteries. And while there's no doubt they have long life, there seems to be a big question on whether that is 10 years or forever. I've heard they self-discharge pretty fast, but that's not a big deal if they are being charged everyday by panels and also heard they consume a lot of water and need frequent topping. Anyway, I don't have a dog in that fight, I just know I looked at them and even assuming deep discharge cycles were possible and life was very long they didn't appear to be an economical alternative to me.

One other alternative for you to consider if you haven't already thought of it -- a forklift battery. That is what I went with (48V, 600 A) and the big upside is that those are made with the intention of 80% discharges on a daily basis (i.e. running a forklift all day and being charged at night) . . . and are supposed to have a life of 1500 cycles or about five years with that heavy use. I'm hoping to get 10+ years out of one, but I'm using it in a grid-tied battery backup system so it will mostly sit there fully charged. Anyway, with a forklift you get 80% of the rating rather than 20-50% with chains of 6V lead acid batteries (i.e. Deka or Trojan L-16).

Just to drive home the point, with one chain of eight L-16 6V batteries @ 370 A you'll have $2400 and you'll get about 17.7 kWH of storage . . . and 20-50% discharge is 3.5 to 9 kWH. A 600A 48V battery (what I have) will cost you $3-4k but that's about 30 kWH and I've read different things about whether that rating is the 80% or not, so you can use somewhere between 24 and 30 kWH with a long life versus the 3.5 to 9 kWH noted above. Of course there are pluses and minuses to both . . . for me the big negative was moving a 1400 pound battery into my laundry room. While doing that I learned that having two-thirds of a great plan for moving it did not equal having a great plan (plan fell apart when I couldn't winch it *into* the room) and my wife and I spent a lot of time with iron bars and metal rolling stock wondering if we were really going to have to leave the door to our house open overnight because it was stuck in the doorway. :) Once inside the engine hoist made it an easy job . . . but 1,400 pounds of battery requires some serious planning to move. But I'm glad I did it and think it will work well. Anyway, the forklift battery ended up making the most sense for me.
 

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Offgridkindaguy
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IMO..

I believe the Edison battery is a great idea but I have issues with the odd voltages. During a charge period, the voltage needs to rise above most inverter threshold limits to achieve a "Proper" charge. Most charge controllers are designed for flooded lead acid or other alternatives and the voltages just don't match so good to the Edison type..

Thinking of a 12 v.d.c. system, (which would hold true with most all other standard voltage level systems) they suggest running with one less cell in the string. This may hold the charge voltage level down to an acceptable, useable level during a charge period but after the sun goes down, one would have low voltage issues with an inverter..

Quote.. http://ironedison.com/nickel-iron-ni-fe-battery

"Normally, we charge the battery to a voltage of 1.65 Volt per cell (or just above). With a 12 V nominal battery, we use 10 x 1.2V cells. When charging, this 12V battery should achieve a voltage of 16.5 Volts.

When working with specific inverters, we may recommend using one fewer cell in series. This allows us to achieve the higher per-cell voltages without going over the inverter limits. Because our batteries perform at up to 118% of rated capacity, the nominal loss of a single cell does not affect total capacity."

9 X 1.2V = 10.8V.. Most 12 volt inverters shut down at 10.5 volts..

Not a good match with a solar powered system but would work well with a hydro or wind system, something with a constant 24/7 charge to the battery..

I notice a difference if my voltage drops to 12 volts from 12.7. I couldn't imagine running at 10.8 volts.. :facepalm: (Just to appease my controller)
 

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To be honest, you would do better to make your own. These puppies are not as simple as a lead acid battery. They are made of iron and nickel hydroxides. Iron hydroxide is quite simple to make at home, but nickel hydroxide would be a pain in the rear to make in a home setting. It's about the same price as nickel per pound if you find the right supplier. I would recommend growing carbon nanotubes by hooking 2 rods of graphite in a saline solution ad pretty much just run a good current through it. Pass it through a coffee filter and mix it with the hydroxides for added surface area (this step allows for a very significant increase in amp hours and quick discharge rates). There is a binding agent that works well for super-capacitors/batteries and it's glue for wall paper. Glue both mixtures on 2 nickel plated iron sheets with a hydraulic press and now you have your plates. The separator would be egg shell membranes. You can buy this in packages for cheap or make your own (another article in itself). Mix it with the glue and "glue" the plates together. Wait unit your cell is dry then submerge it in electrolyte (Lye solution, used in soapmaking). Yeah, you only get 1.2 volts per cell but man would these diy pseudo-capacitors dump the current when you need it..... It's sounds labor intensive and expensive, and it is, but at almost $40K for pre-manufactured 1900's technology.... This might be a cheaper alternative.....

P.S. there's so many youtube videos about making graphene and printing your own super capacitors that some people are replacing their primary start batteries in their cars with banks of super-capacitors.
 

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FarmTechnician, it sounds like you know what you're talking about.

A buddy at work has been repeating, lately, that you can replace batteries for capacitors for any purpose under the sun.

I've always been told that capacitors are ONLY good for storing a charge for a quick, all-out discharge. It seems to me, though, that if you have sufficient resistance in place, you can draw them down as slow as you need. It's also my understanding that they're super efficient to charge up.

Other than the money-controllers of the world suppressing it's adoption, is there a reason NOT to store juice in capacitors, instead of batteries, to run your home??
 

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FarmTechnician, it sounds like you know what you're talking about.

A buddy at work has been repeating, lately, that you can replace batteries for capacitors for any purpose under the sun.

I've always been told that capacitors are ONLY good for storing a charge for a quick, all-out discharge. It seems to me, though, that if you have sufficient resistance in place, you can draw them down as slow as you need. It's also my understanding that they're super efficient to charge up.

Other than the money-controllers of the world suppressing it's adoption, is there a reason NOT to store juice in capacitors, instead of batteries, to run your home??
Your friend is correct, let me explain something about capacitors before making a similar statement.

A battery is an electro-chemical reaction between two different metals where a capacitor is literally defined as the amount of electrification per unit of surface area over the applied voltage. All batteries exhibit capacitance between the plates but it's the change in the system (via chemical electrolytes; i.e. sulfur ions) that produces the direct current we use in usable quantities beyond a few minutes.

A super capacitor is a capacitor that utilizes carbon nanotubes to provide an enormous surface area within molecules of the other plate. These can store and release 100% of their rating within a fraction of a second or slowly drained for longer periods such as several seconds to several minutes.

A pseudo capacitor is a capacitor that utilizes both carbon nanotubes and electro-chemical means. This type is of the construction in my previous post. This type of capacitors, like super-caps, can be charged in minutes and last for hours/days, or can be drained just as quickly and trickle charged back up to capacity.

While you can replace a battery bank with a capacitor bank, it's better to mate the two and use both strong points for long term, deep storage and quick use of that stored energy. The only reason I see for you not to use them in your home setting is the upfront cost for pre-manufactured ones at a bank rating close to 20 KW. However if you look at lifespan, 3-8 years for lead acid vs 75+ for pseudo caps, it actually makes more sense to use pseudo caps..... I don't know of any manufacturers that sell something larger than a few thousand Farads, so you are stuck on a DIY adventure with a soldering iron.....
 

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Electricity is comprised of 2 things, Amps and Volts.

1 Farad is equal to 1 Amp flowing at a pressure of 1 Volt for 1 second.

The definition of an Amp is the rate of change in the electric field over time. Basically how fast you discharge the capacitor is how much Amperage you get.

The definition of a Volt is the rate of change in the magnetic field over time. Basically how fast you collapse the magnetic field dictates your Voltage.

In order to have a storage bank capacity of 20 kwh (average electrical usage to maintain standard of living per household) you would need 72 Million Farads.
 

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Offgridkindaguy
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IMO, the problem with high capacity capacitors is the voltage rating. It seems the higher the capacity, the lower the voltage rating..

This discussion should be another thread.. ;)
 

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IMO, the problem with high capacity capacitors is the voltage rating. It seems the higher the capacity, the lower the voltage rating..

This discussion should be another thread.. ;)
This has to do with their construction. The closer two surfaces are, the more capacity. However the closer they are, the less voltage is needed to cause a dielectric breakdown (spark gap). Two plates of a given size will exhibit more electrification per volt closer together rather than farther apart. Most Super and Pseudo caps operate around 1-2 volts and most battery cells operate around 1-2 volts.

I beg to differ. I think this is the perfect place as Edison batteries were the foundation of modern day Pseudo-Caps, chemically speaking of course. By adding certain elements, these batteries can be charged and drained much faster and more efficiently than their purely electro-chemical predecessors while maintaining their ridiculous long service life (some over 100 years old still in operation).
 
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