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Old 14-12-2012, 05:36   #16
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

vellly intell-esting velly intell-esting. I learn more every day

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Old 14-12-2012, 06:28   #17
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

Many thanks for all contributions. Captain Bill, aside from the current problem (pun intended) I am happy with the Sunforce wind gen. Plenty of power, and quieter than most. Maybe check if they come with a different MPPT now.
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Old 31-12-2014, 09:09   #18
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

Hey everyone,
Good thread. I've read it and think I may have to bypass my working MPPT charge controller that was bundled with my 600W (actually 400w with 12v) marine wind turbine (Sunforce).
The issue is on my Lagoon 410 my battery bank is two 4D Lifeline 220mAH batteries connected in parallel for a 12v bank. When I got the boat they really would not hold a charge and one morning they went to 10.3v. I was sure they were dead, maybe they still are but after charging with the charger in the boat connected to shore power they went to 13v. However they drain down to 12v very quickly. I mean plugging in about anything drops them from 13.1v to 12.2 in a few minutes.
I read on the lifeline site to try charging them then charging them with 15v for 8hrs (conditioning charge). It's windy here so I'd like to let the wind generator do this it's blowing 7/24 currently. The problem is the MPPT controller stops the wind turbine when the voltage hits about 14.5v. Then the voltage drops to about 13.x volts and a few minutes later the turbine turns on a gain then seconds to a minute later off it goes as the voltage hits 14.x volts again.
So, I am thinking if I take the MPPT controller out of the loop I can manually monitor this and feed my batteries the 15.x volts and try and recover them.
Going forward I think it's a huge lack of hindsight for any controller vendor to just hard code a value like that assuming all batteries are the same. They are not. Since the controller has a manual that is no help here maybe someone knows a way to get what I need? Raise the stop voltage in the controller? These lifelines are not cheap so I'd like to try and save them if possible. I once read there is no such thing as a truly dead battery unless the plates themselves are damaged they can be recovered.
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Old 31-12-2014, 11:14   #19
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

Wind generators are a tool of the antichrist.

I was lured into buying one of these things when I became a live aboard.

The first problem was the inconsiderate neighbors who complained bitterly about the noise keeping them awake so I was obliged to either tie it off or suffer a severely truncated social life; I opted for the social life and consequently was obliged to have the wind generator sit lifeless and not provide me with any return on my investment.

Eventually I abandoned the marina lifestyle and took up cruising (the truth is winter came so I headed for warmer climes) and was able to unleash the wind generator, AHA a ROI at last. The flaw in that theory is that I am an almost sane sort of soul I preferred to really only sail down wind and the generator prefers sailing to windward; so still no ROI.

In addition to the down wind problem I developed a phobia about cold weather and have spent my cruising life dodging about trying to stay in the 65 to 90 degree weather zone where, outside the narrow trade wind zone just south of the equator there are no strong reliable and consistent winds; still no ROI.

There have been occasions when the wind generator did provide a small ROI however the terror they induce is not worth the Wattage returned.

The first truly terrifying experience was being caught in a hail storm with strong wind gusts. I was trapped on the wheel because the autopilot could not handle the gusts and the noise from the wind generator in same whilst it acted as a giant cocktail bar blender above my head was bowel watering.

In my imagination I could see the thing shedding blades because of the ice crushing frenzy, flinging it's blades, which would then destroy all my solar panels, and the broken blades become embedded in the back of my head. It stayed tied off for about the next two years whilst I recovered my nerve.

After I had finally regained enough confidence to eventually untie it I anchored in a nice bay formed where two mountains saddled to escape adverse winds. They started blowing after dark and it was then I realized I was in a wind funnel. Consequently, in addition to having to worry all night that I might drag anchor I was lumbered with the blade shedding terror again.

When I bought the wind generator the nice man at the 12 Volt shop advised me not to run it through my panel regulator as it could burn it out. He said to just hook it straight up to the batteries and keep an eye on your battery voltage. What he did not advise me was to stick a dirty great double pole double throw switch and shunt in the circuit to tame the mongrel when it went crazy.

Anyway, the funneled tempest got the wind generator into a screaming frenzy and between worrying about dragging and switching electrical equipment on and off all night to soak up it's madly fluctuating current output so that it did not overcharge my batteries I was a nervous wreck by daylight. There was no way I was going anywhere near the banshee mongrel to attempt to tie it off in the dark.

The wind funnel incident convinced me that the thing was an outright extremest; either it sat about wearing itself out spinning away without ever getting up enough rotations to produce a voltage which would buck the battery voltage or it would go to the other extreme and put out so much that there was a danger of it destroying them, the panels and me.

It still lives on a pole on the back of the boat but mostly tied off. I leave it there to remind me of the folly of not properly researching things before I buy them.

My advice is to sell the damned wind generator to some unsuspecting poor adventurer with dreams of free power from the wind so that he or she can become learned in the follies of wind generators and spend the money on more solar panels and batteries.
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Old 31-12-2014, 12:23   #20
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

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Wind generators are a tool of the antichrist.

I was lured into buying one of these things when I became a live aboard.

The first problem was the inconsiderate neighbors who complained bitterly about ...
My advice is to sell the damned wind generator to some unsuspecting poor adventurer with dreams of free power from the wind so that he or she can become learned in the follies of wind generators and spend the money on more solar panels and batteries.
Yikes, sounds like someone needed to vent. Glad I was able to provide that opportunity but please people I have no intentions to stop using the wind vs diesel to make power and I'm not a therapist so I'm no help if you just want to vent your feelings about these things
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Old 31-12-2014, 12:41   #21
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

Personally I suspect that your batteries are toast. But, if they are, there's not a lot of cost in trying an equalizing/conditioning charge to see what happens. One caution though, the necessary voltage can damage some electronics, so the batteries should be offline when charged at 15.5V.

The second part is trying to do that with the wind genny. Don't see a convenient way to do that, you really want a constant voltage regulator in the mix, and if your controller doesn't provide that (and as best I can tell the Sunforce doesn't have that option) things get difficult. A conditioning charge is really best done with shore power and a battery charger. Absent that, do you have or can you borrow a little Honda generator to mimic shore power? The actual charging current will be very low, so not a lot of power is required, just eight hours at a nice steady voltage. Some might even argue that raising and lowering the voltage can help in sulfation removal, but the ups and downs of an un-regulated wind genny are pretty extreme, and it would be easy to get to really damaging voltages since there isn't any room in the batteries to accept much current.

I'd recommend trying to think up some alternate method to getting the conditioning charge than using the wind generator.
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Old 31-12-2014, 12:53   #22
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
That's the second thing why have load dumping resistors on a AC alternator wind turbine. I can understand why on a DC generator. But on an AC one you would just control the field current and reduce the excitation.


Dave
The ability to stop/brake the unit is important and some AC wind gens short the unit to cause it to not spin wildly out of control and to prevent bearing wear.. These tend to work off simple ON/OFF regulation.. Off/brake at 14.4V and back on at 13.4V etc....

Other units like the Superwind or D400 use a load dump.... We are due for better wind generator controlers....

As for the OP his batts should be getting above 13V but the Lagoon's are often very load heavy with multiple fridge's and or freezers etc.. I am also not a huge fan of the Christec chargers they supplied on some of them, at least the older ones. Very often I have seen them set to "boost off" which means float voltage only and no absorption... This will shorten AGM life pretty quickly.....
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Old 31-12-2014, 13:02   #23
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

I've a neighbor in a Marina slip with one of those things, we are al plugged into shore power, what does he need or want with that noisy thing? I'd rather he run a generator, at least they are a steady noise.

I too suspect your batteries were murdered before you got them, I think they were repeatedly discharged way below where they should have been.

Can you remove them, take them to someone who is equipped to equalize them?
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Old 31-12-2014, 13:47   #24
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

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The ability to stop/brake the unit is important and some AC wind gens short the unit to cause it to not spin wildly out of control and to prevent bearing wear.. These tend to work off simple ON/OFF regulation.. Off/brake at 14.4V and back on at 13.4V etc....

Other units like the Superwind or D400 use a load dump.... We are due for better wind generator controlers....

As for the OP his batts should be getting above 13V but the Lagoon's are often very load heavy with multiple fridge's and or freezers etc.. I am also not a huge fan of the Christec chargers they supplied on some of them, at least the older ones. Very often I have seen them set to "boost off" which means float voltage only and no absorption... This will shorten AGM life pretty quickly.....
Just to add some data here. The fridge on our boat is AC. So to power it you either flip on the inverter 12/24v to 230v which then powers the fridge. We can and only do that either: 1) We are on shore power 220v 50A, 2) the Port engine is running at 1800+ RPMs.

The fridge should be outside this equation, my laptop can basically pull this 440AH bank from 13.1v to 12.5 in an hour or less. However "toast", "dead" etc are not scientific terms. There are credible sources and articles that "dead", "toast" and other names for not giving output batteries can be restored. That is the topic I'm really after in another thread where I mention my predicament.

This thread is just my asking about the MPPT controller and getting it to stop cutting out at 15v so I can pump some juice into these things and maybe "condition" them back to life.

A good suggestion, I'll likely have to do this, is pull them and take them somewhere.

Even more info: My boat is my home. I don't live in a marina with shore power nor do we want to move into one. The wind generator is a viable always working way to charge for those who do not ever (or rarely see shore power). Yes, if we lived in a slip I would turn the break on and everyone could sleep to the hum of their air conditioners. That's what every boat in slips seem to have. FWIW we do not have air conditioning either. No need as long as we are not in a marina there is plenty of wind to keep us cool even in the summer here.

Just our situation, we are completely ok with it, just looking to get our wind generator to stop cutting out every few minutes ATM so we can pump some charge into these batteries and hopefully possibly get some life back into them.

I did order on Amazon a 3-phase DC transformer per someone's suggestion here. Exact name is: "SQL 100A Amp 1000V 3 Phase Diode Metal Case Bridge Rectifier" for 9 dollars. Nice to not pay an arm and a leg for something useful.

The photo given in a prior post looks just like ours. I'll wire it up that way when it arrives. I'll also wire in the manual brake that came with it as without the MPPT controller I'll probably need it.

Should I start a new thread on this or would everyone like me to just update here?
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Old 31-12-2014, 15:32   #25
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

"toast" is a perfectly good technical term in this case, it means "deader than a doornail" or, in the context of batteries "incapable of ever again holding a charge anywhere near the original label capacity". That's just my opinion, based on a lot of experience and on everything I've read on the subject. Clearly you have read other sources. And, as I said, if the batteries really are toast, then what harm is there in trying to bring them back with a conditioning charge? Worst case you'll have wasted a few hours of your time.

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There are two types of sulfation: reversible (or soft sulfation), and permanent (or hard sulfation). If a battery is serviced early, reversible sulfation can often be corrected by applying an overcharge to a fully charged battery in the form of a regulated current of about 200mA. The battery terminal voltage is allowed to rise to between 2.50 and 2.66V/cell (15 and 16V on a 12V mono block) for about 24 hours. Increasing the battery temperature to 50–60C (122–140F) further helps in dissolving the crystals. Permanent sulfation sets in when the battery has been in a low state-of-charge for weeks or months. At this stage, no form of restoration is possible.

There is a fine line between reversible and non-reversible sulfation, and most batteries have a little bit of both. Good results are achievable if the sulfation is only a few weeks old; restoration becomes more difficult the longer the battery is allowed to stay in a low SoC. A sulfated battery may improve marginally when applying a de-sulfation service. A subtle indication of whether a lead acid can be recovered is visible on the voltage discharge curve. If a fully charged battery retains a stable voltage profile on discharge, chances of reactivation are better than if the voltage drops rapidly with load.
The difficulty with the three-phase bridge is that you will not be able to control the voltage. The generator will put out what it needs to based on wind speed. For your bank I would estimate that 1-2A are probably all that is required to get your conditioning voltage. If the generator has more available power than 30W, where will it go? The answer is it will raise the voltage of your battery. A conditioning charge is already marginal in terms of gas production (even in AGMs or VRLAs) as you raise the voltage even higher you run the risk of sufficient offgassing to burst the battery case.

The problem (in this case) with the Sunforce charger is that it doesn't have a separate voltage sensing lead. With a separate lead it is pretty easy to spoof the voltage to the sensor and get it where you want it. Without the separate lead (and absent a schematic from Sunforce) you are left with opening up the controller, figuring out the voltage sensing portion of the circuit, designing a modification to that circuit, and then putting it all back together. And after you are done your left with an on-off controller with ~1V hysteresis, which doesn't provide the necessary stable high voltage.

If you really want to do this, and use the wind generator, then I would suggest you hook the existing wind generator and controller up to a separate battery (a starting battery or something like that), that will provide a controlled load for the wind gen. Then go over to Digi-Key and spend something like $50 on a dc-dc converter that does 9-15V input and 15.5V regulated output at ~2A. Hook the converter input to the starting bat/wind genny assembly. Get the Lifelines fully charged so they don't need much, then hook up the output to the batteries and run them at 15.5V as recommended by Lifeline. The difficulty I think you will run into is that without a proper battery charger, getting them to the point where a little 2A supply can hold them at 15V will be hard.

This would all be really easy if you could figure out a way to borrow a battery charger (with an equalization setting) and some power for 8 hours. Or take them to shore where someone has the setup available.
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Old 31-12-2014, 15:49   #26
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

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This would all be really easy if you could figure out a way to borrow a battery charger (with an equalization setting) and some power for 8 hours. Or take them to shore where someone has the setup available.
This is really the only sane way to go about trying to bring these back with an equalization charge. Farting around with a windgen trying to supply the exquisitely and precisely controlled charge profile necessary to equalize AGM batteries is nuts and will only end in failure anyhow. Just "pumping some >15V charge into them" will certainly make them toast if they are not already dead.

Lifeline publishes exact instructions for how and when to equalize their batteries.

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Old 01-01-2015, 04:48   #27
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

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"toast" is a perfectly good technical term in this case, it means "deader than a doornail" or, in the context of batteries "incapable of ever again holding a charge anywhere near the original label capacity". That's just my opinion, based on a lot of experience and on everything I've read on the subject. Clearly you have read other sources. And, as I said, if the batteries really are toast, then what harm is there in trying to bring them back with a conditioning charge? Worst case you'll have wasted a few hours of your time.



The difficulty with the three-phase bridge is that you will not be able to control the voltage. The generator will put out what it needs to based on wind speed. For your bank I would estimate that 1-2A are probably all that is required to get your conditioning voltage. If the generator has more available power than 30W, where will it go? The answer is it will raise the voltage of your battery. A conditioning charge is already marginal in terms of gas production (even in AGMs or VRLAs) as you raise the voltage even higher you run the risk of sufficient offgassing to burst the battery case.

The problem (in this case) with the Sunforce charger is that it doesn't have a separate voltage sensing lead. With a separate lead it is pretty easy to spoof the voltage to the sensor and get it where you want it. Without the separate lead (and absent a schematic from Sunforce) you are left with opening up the controller, figuring out the voltage sensing portion of the circuit, designing a modification to that circuit, and then putting it all back together. And after you are done your left with an on-off controller with ~1V hysteresis, which doesn't provide the necessary stable high voltage.

If you really want to do this, and use the wind generator, then I would suggest you hook the existing wind generator and controller up to a separate battery (a starting battery or something like that), that will provide a controlled load for the wind gen. Then go over to Digi-Key and spend something like $50 on a dc-dc converter that does 9-15V input and 15.5V regulated output at ~2A. Hook the converter input to the starting bat/wind genny assembly. Get the Lifelines fully charged so they don't need much, then hook up the output to the batteries and run them at 15.5V as recommended by Lifeline. The difficulty I think you will run into is that without a proper battery charger, getting them to the point where a little 2A supply can hold them at 15V will be hard.

This would all be really easy if you could figure out a way to borrow a battery charger (with an equalization setting) and some power for 8 hours. Or take them to shore where someone has the setup available.
I understand, your humor included.
All good info. Thank you for taking the time to add that.
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Old 01-01-2015, 04:51   #28
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

Thanks all for the inputs. I'll sort them out. The 3-phase will probably sit for the day my MPPT controller does fail and I just need charge.
I'll look for a descent, reasonably priced charger to use at our next marina stop. I completely agree that I do not want to blow a chance to recover 1500.00 worth of batteries by not doing it right.
Any recommendations on the charger?
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Old 01-01-2015, 06:53   #29
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

closing update here. This AM I traced the outputs from the MPPT controller (Sunforce). It seems the installer I overpaid to install everything hooked both the load and the DC out to the same place, the battery collection terminals.

Since disconnecting the load +/- the voltages no longer surge with the wind speed. All I see now is a much more steady, slow, up and a slow steady down if the wind dies down.

Now time to hope my batteries can recover from this. I will try and get to shore power soon to do a conditioning charge on them.

Thanks again everyone for your inputs, comments. In my case my MPPT controller seems to be working ok now.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:10   #30
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Re: Replacing Sunforce MPPT

"The problem (in this case) with the Sunforce charger is that it doesn't have a separate voltage sensing lead."
FWIW, a dedicated voltage sense lead is an anachronism going back to analog days. A digital charger, using PWM, can very easily stop charging, read the battery voltage over the charging wires while it is not charging, and then stop reading the voltage and shoot out another pulse of power. And do all that 20,000 times a second.
Chargers, alternators, all this stuff has become very diverse in the last 45 years. Even in the 1970's, GM's AC Delco was using PWM and maintaining a tightly fixed voltage, but varying the pulse timing all over the place.
You can't assume the lack of a dedicated sense lead means there is no sensing happening. Possibly, but not absolutely.
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