Then again, sometimes more is more.

I contemplated ways to put a serious evening-long load on my new/old battery bank, and found myself instead re-writing the lyrics to Junkfood Junky to the new title Lightswitch Nazi. (In the day I spend like a sailor, just as wasteful as I can be/But at night I’m a lightswitch nazi, good lord have pity on me)

Point being, my old two-battery bank actually fit my usage habits pretty well, except for gloomy times mostly during winter when I was forced to economize further. I guess tonight I’ll go around and turn on every light in the cabin and leave them on till bedtime, then see what the morning voltage is and how long it takes to recharge. I’ll have to force my inner nazi to sit down and shut up while I’m doing that, because damn. Last January when I spent a week in Landlady’s house in the city, I went around turning off unused lights in what was probably a fairly annoying fashion. It’s a standard line with me: Nothing will turn you into a lightswitch nazi faster than living off grid. I’ve been doing it for ten years so excuuuuse me.

But what surprises me is not so much that I’ve got more voltage margin to play with, that’s perfectly logical. More battery cell plate acreage, more storage capacity. But why is my battery bank recharging more quickly than before? Those two things do not go together. It’s not just more capacity, the whole system is working better in every way.

It led me to wonder if maybe one of those two Interstates wasn’t quietly going south. So I dragged out one of the two pieces of indispensable test gear I do have…

And checked the specific gravity in all cells of the batteries I pulled day before yesterday. And it’s all perfect. There’s nothing wrong with those batteries.

I’m a little confused. Gratified, but confused. Maybe I just haven’t allowed for the longer days.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Then again, sometimes more is more.

  1. Malatrope says:

    Newer batteries accept a charge easier than old ones.

  2. coloradohermit says:

    When our batteries got old, they’d charge up really fast but wouldn’t hold the charge. As soon as the sun was off the panels, the voltage would drop dramatically. But, your voltage hasn’t seemed to fall off during the night, so it’ll be interesting to see what result your anti-light Nazi experiment yields. Have I mentioned that I don’t miss batteries?

  3. Joel says:

    When our batteries got old, they’d charge up really fast but wouldn’t hold the charge.

    Yeah. My first set of batteries with this charging system were salvaged from a burnt-out RV. They worked great for about 18 months, but then started behaving just that way: Charge very quickly in the morning, discharge very quickly in the evening. A cell in one had shorted, and it was like pouring the same amount of water into a tank that had suddenly gotten a lot shallower.

    Have I mentioned that I don’t miss batteries?

    :) If somebody ever gets around to inventing a vest pocket “Mr. Fusion” powerplant, I want one. Till then, it’s solar or wind and wind sucks – and they both need batteries.

  4. Mark Matis says:

    Must be the daylight saving time change that is doing so much good for your power system performance! All Hail Benjamin Franklin for giving Joel an extra hour of daylight!

  5. riverrider says:

    idk, i have a dif issue with mine. 4 twelve volt battery bank in parallel. first two charge properly, last two stuck at 12.2 volts which is what goes to the inverter and quickly discharges below 12v. it was working fine until the other day. no idea what to do with it now….congrats on your new batteries.

  6. Joel says:

    Simplest thing, check your battery connections. They can stealthily corrode enough to affect conductivity. If that’s not the problem and you don’t have a hydrometer to check the specific gravity in all the cells, open the caps when the sun is strong and the batteries should be charging and see if there are any cells in the low-voltage batteries that aren’t bubbling. Short circuits can kill cells suddenly.

  7. abnormalist says:

    I suspect part of it is the reduced load, have you started using more LED/CFL lighting? the smaller inverters have to pull a lower load on idle than the big 4000w one used to.

    The additional panels also are probably a big part of it

To the stake with the heretic!