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Nickel Iron vs. Lead Acid - Off Grid battery debate

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  • inetdog
    replied
    Originally posted by Robert1234 View Post
    The need for electrolyte changes should essentially be the same in both the ChangHong and Zappworks cells assuming similar maintanence / use conditions. Not sure what you are referring to about "1/4 layer of potassium hydroxide over the bottom and refill with distilled water". If you can post that reference, maybe it will help explain.
    That sounds frighteningly like advice to add the KOH powder the the dried cell and then add water, mixing them inside the battery. That sounds like an incredibly dangerous idea to me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robert1234
    replied
    Back to the discussion...

    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    After further reading, the two main sellers use the cheaper built Chinese jobs. Zappworks out of Montana are the only US manufacturers and use longer lasting construction.
    As stated elsewhere, the scuttle butt is that Zappworks is reconditioning plates from old Edison cells & repackaging them in polyolefin cases. If true, you should take into account that Zappworks cells are already decades old. I doubt seriously that they are reloading the NiOH tubes but rather are simply acid cleaning them.

    Yes, Edison's plate designs have stood the test of time, but to say the ChangHong design will not do the same may be yet undetermined and unfair.


    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    I have found they require up to monthly addition of distilled water, like lead acid.
    I water my Edison cells weekly. I don't think they will make it a month till I expose the top of the plates. Zappworks / ChangHong may give more headspace and permit less frequent watering. I do not know.


    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    They have poor low temperature performance, so need to be in a heated area, and discharge on their own more, with 10% less efficiency than lead acid.
    Yep on the low temp, self-discharge hasn't proven to be an issue in my solar useage as they are recharged most every day, and charge / discharge efficiency is definately inferior to LA.


    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    The Ni-Fe good ones by Zapps need an electrolyte change every 20 years with a 1/4 layer of potassium hydroxide over the bottom and refill with distilled water.
    The need for electrolyte changes should essentially be the same in both the ChangHong and Zappworks cells assuming similar maintanence / use conditions. Not sure what you are referring to about "1/4 layer of potassium hydroxide over the bottom and refill with distilled water". If you can post that reference, maybe it will help explain. If you've got kickout in the cell, it is probably not simply due to KOH unless you are wickedly cold. Could be precipitation however from common ion effect if you've been bodying up to keep "free KOH" in the appropriate range due to carbonate formation. Perhaps could also be oxidized species falling off the electrodes.

    Side note... If you want to know why ChangHong suggests 30% KOH versus Edison's original ~20%, it minimizes the freezing point of the solution and thus gives the solution better low temperature performance. Simple as that.

    http://koh.olinchloralkali.com/Techn...seDiagram.aspx


    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    Probably good for 100 years....
    That is the 60 million $$ question - or $10k question anyway. And that's probably the sales pitch that initiated this "debate".

    "Good" is the word that is debateable in that sentence. I'd have to say if you're able to accept 25-50% of your original amp-hour capacity as a definition of "good", then I'll side with you on that statement. Guess it may have to be another 100 years before we know if we can do better.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robert1234
    replied
    Originally posted by Sunking View Post
    Yes but Exide is one of the only places for 1-stop shopping. Otherwise you are in for months and months of searching for a lost cause. There is a reason Edison did not renew his patent, and Exide quit making them.
    Not sure what exactly you are inferring. Edison could not "renew" his patent. It ran out. During Edison's days, patents only protected you for 17 years (you only get 20 years now). You cannot extend patents indefinately. Once 1918 rolled around, Edison had to rely on his technology extensions (new patents), trade secret knowledge with regards to manufacturing, and other barriers to entry into the market such as cost.

    The flurry of patents in the 20's wasn't because the technology had so many problems as some might have you believe. It was quite the opposite. The technology was important to his company and a second series of patent extensions was desireable to keep competitors out.

    In my opinion, Exide dropped the product line after they bought it because it did not really fit their business model. We were quickly becoming a "throw away" society at that time and people didn't want to pay 5x the price for a product that might last 10x as long. Still, since you might want that competitor out of the market space to extend your own sales, you buy them and shut them down. Why else buy the product line, then cease it's manufacture? Exide isn't stupid.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunking
    replied
    Originally posted by Robert1234 View Post
    I'm sure Exide has some unpublished trade secrets that they aquired with the purchase of Edison's technology, but do not fear - there is plenty we know about Edison's work that is not buried in the "Exide vaults".
    Yes but Exide is one of the only places for 1-stop shopping. Otherwise you are in for months and months of searching for a lost cause. There is a reason Edison did not renew his patent, and Exide quit making them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robert1234
    replied
    Originally posted by Sunking View Post
    All the Edison's Papers are owned and buried deep in Exide archives. You can find bits a pieces on the web but it will take a Researches effort to find it all.
    I'm sure Exide has some unpublished trade secrets that they aquired with the purchase of Edison's technology, but do not fear - there is plenty we know about Edison's work that is not buried in the "Exide vaults".

    [B]Before I go too much further, since I haven't taken the opportunity to say this yet on this forum, [I]if all you are looking for is a simple storage media for your power needs that takes minimal attention then use LA or some other battery technology other than Ni-Fe[/I].[/B] But, since this [U]IS[/U] a Ni-Fe thread, if you are ready and willing to work it, understand it, and (yes) maintain it then Ni-Fe can be the right choice. I do not believe there is no "one size fits all" solution out there. The right choice depends on your individual needs and situation.

    If you really want to learn about Ni-Fe technology, here's a listing of the majority of Edison's Patents dealing with his battery initiatives including electroplating, etc that you can start with. You need those references too if you want to truly understand his battery construction and the limits of his technology as it was constructed when he was alive. The "good stuff" starts in 1901, but I give you a couple other references where Edison was working with Pb, Cu, and Zn. Please keep in mind these are the Edison references only, and the information inside them certainly in no way makes you an expert in the application of Nickel Iron redox chemistry for power storage (even if you believe you understand it throroughly). It is the beginning of a journey, not the end. Keep researching, get your hands on some cells and learn for yourself lest you be lead astray by self proclaimed experts, vendors, etc. There has been lots more knowlege accumulated since 1927. Don't limit yourself to the century old information.

    Edison Battery Patent Listings by Application Date:

    Pat Num App Date
    273,492 06/26/1882
    274,292 08/07/1882
    430,279 07/02/1889
    684,204 10/31/1900
    704,303 1/8/1901
    704,304 3/1/1901
    700,136 3/5/1901
    700,137 3/5/1901
    704,305 5/17/1901
    678,722 6/20/1901
    684,205 6/20/1901
    692,507 6/20/1901
    701,804 6/20/1901
    704,306 6/20/1901
    734,522 2/14/1902
    727,117 10/3/1902
    727,118 10/21/1902
    721,682 11/28/1902
    723,449 11/28/1902
    723,450 11/28/1902
    754,858 11/28/1902
    754,859 11/28/1902
    852,424 11/28/1902
    831,269 3/5/1903
    850,912 10/5/1903
    857,041 10/5/1903
    766,815 11/18/1903
    821,622 6/29/1904
    879,612 6/29/1904
    880,484 6/29/1904
    827,297 7/21/1904
    785,297 8/16/1904
    821,032 9/28/1904
    817,162 9/29/1904
    821,623 11/2/1904
    821,624 11/2/1904
    821,625 11/5/1904
    879,859 3/1/1905
    821,626 3/30/1905
    821,627 3/30/1905
    854,200 3/30/1905
    857,929 3/30/1905
    882,144 3/30/1905
    860,195 4/28/1905
    976,791 4/28/1905
    936,433 10/14/1905
    880,978 11/2/1905
    880,979 11/2/1905
    850,913 12/7/1905
    914,342 12/7/1905
    858,862 1/10/1906
    964,096 3/19/1906
    914,372 7/14/1906
    898,404 11/3/1906
    948,558 12/3/1906
    936,525 1/18/1907
    865,687 1/19/1907
    865,688 1/19/1907
    876,445 5/10/1907
    914,343 5/17/1907
    896,811 2/6/1908
    940,635 2/6/1908
    896,812 3/18/1908
    999,762 3/20/1908
    946,540 3/23/1908
    976,792 5/24/1910
    1,012,828 5/24/1910
    1,207,382 5/24/1910
    1,036,471 6/6/1910
    1,115,463 6/17/1910
    1,034,002 1/27/1911
    1,034,003 1/27/1911
    1,083,355 4/8/1911
    1,083,356 4/8/1911
    1,167,484 4/8/1911
    1,016,875 7/28/1911
    1,275,232 12/22/1911
    1,073,107 1/11/1912
    1,143,818 1/17/1912
    1,167,485 4/30/1912
    1,299,693 8/10/1914
    1,198,426 8/31/1914
    1,364,358 12/13/1915
    1,266,780 1/20/1917
    1,377,192 1/18/1919
    1,377,193 1/23/1919
    1,371,414 6/17/1919
    1,359,972 6/21/1919
    1,369,271 7/3/1919
    1,369,272 8/5/1919
    1,402,751 9/5/1919
    1,379,088 9/16/1919
    1,364,359 9/29/1919
    1,379,089 10/4/1919
    1,386,095 11/6/1919
    1,410,391 12/2/1919
    1,410,391 12/2/1919
    1,377,194 6/16/1920
    1,417,464 7/16/1920
    1,425,184 8/26/1920
    1,489,240 1/5/1921
    1,488,480 9/28/1921
    1,488,481 4/26/1922
    1,651,196 5/14/1923
    1,559,562 5/25/1923
    1,599,121 2/26/1924
    1,526,326 3/12/1924
    1,649,579 7/24/1925
    1,836,066 8/14/1926
    1,723,609 10/12/1927

    Leave a comment:


  • moguitar
    replied
    After further reading, the two main sellers use the cheaper built Chinese jobs. Zappworks out of Montana are the only US manufacturers and use longer lasting construction. Even the Chinese ones have a minimum 15 year warranty. I have found they require up to monthly addition of distilled water, like lead acid. They have poor low temperature performance, so need to be in a heated area, and discharge on their own more, with 10% less efficiency than lead acid. Otherwise, they also may need inverters that will go lower in voltage. Amp hour sizing can be quite a bit less. My 780AH lead acid bank can be 250 AH Ni-Fe. I emailed zappworks with my garage system specs and asked about the sizing, physical and amp hour, and if I can use the same charge controller, charger, and inverters.
    I'll report back what they say, but I won't be changing out my 14-L16Ss in three systems. I want to keep all my batteries the same, so that I can throw in one or more from another system to keep the main system operational while I go get new batteries 40 miles away. My main system would be basically impossible because of limited room and the fact it can get well below the 60*F minimum for Ni-Fe to get full power. The Ni-Fe good ones by Zapps need an electrolyte change every 20 years with a 1/4 layer of potassium hydroxide over the bottom and refill with distilled water. Probably good for 100 years, so definitely for someone thinking far ahead and has a LOT of money.
    Here is another conversation going online about them from earlier this year;
    http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php?topic=146519.0

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunking
    replied
    All the Edison's Papers are owned and buried deep in Exide archives. You can find bits a pieces on the web but it will take a Researches effort to find it all.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sundetective
    replied
    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    Are there any other sources for nickel iron batteries?? Not just sales, but unbiased INFO. Like I said, you have to shop around and get all the info you can before laying out the cash.
    Try getting a good notebook and ask Google and other search engines questions.
    Keep a list of your questions and some notes.

    For example:

    Life cycles of Nickel Iron Battery

    https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp...w=1006&bih=526

    You may also want to start keeping some good Bookmarks.
    Though there are things about Internet Explorer that can piss people off I don't see
    any competition that is even close for breaking down and categorizing Bookmarks.
    The Instant Favorites Bar across the top of your screen will also
    Do You Solid.

    Bill Blake

    Leave a comment:


  • moguitar
    replied
    Are there any other sources for nickel iron batteries?? Not just sales, but unbiased INFO. Like I said, you have to shop around and get all the info you can before laying out the cash.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunking
    replied
    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    All I know about nickel-iron is mostly from http://www.ironedison.com and emails from them.
    There lies the crux of your problem. Your only source is biased and has a vested interest.

    Leave a comment:


  • moguitar
    replied
    All I know about nickel-iron is mostly from http://www.ironedison.com and emails from them. They claim 25 year service life and I believe have a 20 year warranty. I can't change now anyway because of the bigger size for equivalent to my 8-L16S 24VDC main system and 4-L16S 12VDC garage/addition system. I built custom cabinets for them.
    In originally researching from the Solar Living Sourcebook back in 1994, the longest life batteries then were sodium batteries, but they were expensive and big.
    Anyone who is researching doing an off grid system should not only look at their pocketbook, but what is going to be the best long term investment. Less maintenance is nice, too.
    The iron edison batteries look good and sound good from them, but they are salesmen and profiteers. I shopped around a lot for all my system components and looked at feedback from others as much as possible along with advice from experts like the people at Real Goods. Now, if thinking of nickel iron, I would do the same. Shop around, look at the experience of others, and try not to get hit by profiteers who so proliferate the alternative energy business.
    I am also aware of the ridiculous huge trade imbalance with China, and think it should be even or stop.
    If Iron Edison's claims are true, and they are US made, and if I was starting a new system, with enough money, I would go for them. If they are over-priced phonies from China---no. Personally, overseas shipping should revert back to sails IMHO.
    My present L16Ss are made and recycled in the USA, and I don't mind checking specific gravity and putting in distilled water once a month in summer and once every two months in winter. To me, it is just part of being off grid independent since 1998.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sundetective
    replied
    Originally posted by moguitar View Post
    <snip> However, if I was someone just starting a solar electric system, I would probably go with them. Then hope that 12.5 years or so later a newer, better battery system is not developed, and I am stuck with it for another 12.5 years.
    Moguitar, Does this mean that you would hope to get 25 years of service out of the Chinese
    Ni-Fe Batteries?

    How far down would you plan on discharging the cells most of the time.
    Did you look into the suggested charging rate yet.
    Also who and when the charging rate (or rates) were suggested.

    As far as charging efficiency goes do you feel that the DOD will make a dramatic difference
    when comparing the Net results between Ni-Fe and Lead Acid.

    I'm starting to wonder about using the low battery discharge scheme (in many cases)
    more and more this year.
    Of course with Ni-Fe you pay dearly not only at the high end of the charging scale
    but also when charging at 50% DOD (or so) and below.

    The charging of the Ni-Fe cells becomes less and less efficient as you drop the SOC (state of charge)
    below a certain point according to Changhong Batteries that builds them.

    Of coarse China can't match that old Mercury magic any longer.
    The using of Mercury was long lived and a huge deal for Edison.
    He made no secret of it.
    I don't cherry pick his words. Quote and believe this one - but wait - don't believe that one.
    Naaaahhh.
    Until proven otherwise I believe he learned more as he went along just like we do.

    People talk about experience.
    Changhong and Edison both had plenty of millions of dollars worth
    of experience and usually had a good reason to tell anybody anything.
    A lot of kindness of the heart doesn't seem to have EVER been a big part of it.
    Some Ni-Fe knowledge (that a regular person could use) is being reversed rather
    than being expanded upon. Old Bill tries to store a tad of it.

    You pushed the thread past 22,000 views.


    Bill Blake

    Leave a comment:


  • moguitar
    replied
    Got some info from IE.com

    I had emailed http://www.ironedison.com again on the maintenance and sizing compared to lead acid. I was told they need to be in vented containers/areas like the lead acid, also giving off hydrogen gas. They need distilled water added about half as often as lead acid, but I don't know about the quantity difference. In sizing, the AH of the nickel iron batteries they sell can be about 58% of the same requirements for lead acid like my L16Ss.
    Too bad I can not re-size my battery cabinets for the larger area needed by changing to nickel iron batteries. However, if I was someone just starting a solar electric system, I would probably go with them. Then hope that 12.5 years or so later a newer, better battery system is not developed, and I am stuck with it for another 12.5 years.
    Right now, I am hoping for a smaller compatible long lasting battery to replace the L16Ss. The others in the possible forecast look like they would need a whole different charge controller at the minimum, but maybe maintenance free. Cost comparison is important and unknown.

    Leave a comment:


  • russ
    replied
    Robert - Not to worry - your discussion, points and questions are quite right.

    The constant beating on one company, even if deserved, are tiresome and do nothing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robert1234
    replied
    Originally posted by Sundetective View Post
    Sounds like you don't need any more info from me, Mr. Edison or anyone else.
    You can leave me out and tell everybody (who will listen) how Edison and his teams didn't really know about the Edison batteries -
    but you do.
    Bill Blake
    Wow... That was quite a sour response. I simply asked for current data and for people with experience to join in. I tried to move us forward in the discussion without ruffling feathers too much. Quess that didn't work out so well. I apologize if you took offense.

    The Ni-Fe batteries aren't all THAT bad (even the Chinese forms) or the technology wouldn't still be in production 100 years later. The market would see to that. You may not like a vendor or two, but in my opinion to discredit a technology's ability to serve the solar folks without solid research would be just downright foolish. Are there issues that concern me? Absolutely yes, but the discussion here into what really concerns me about this technology never got that far.

    As far as your comments I quote above, let me simply quote "His Excellency" himself from one of his own patents I tried to get discussed...

    "I am not able to explain why the addition of Lithium hydroxid as explained, to the electrolyte, should result in such striking and noticeable phenomena." - USPTO - No. 876,445.

    I'm not saying Edison was dumb, and even he says Lithium was more than "a BIT of a help". The reference I entered into this discussion thread with (from almost 8 decacades later) studies and explains that phenomena. It's a shame we didn't even get to delve into it's findings so as to discuss it's best utilization. Also, there are references still being published as recent as April of this year dealing with the core understandings of the redox chemistry itself. We didn't get to talk about that either. Lots more research underway at many, many universities.

    Do I know more about Edison's own battery than he did? I can say will all humility "Yes" - but not just because of myself, but because of the continuous work of others. We've got 100 years of experience by scores of researchers on him. Can his battery technology be improved? - No doubt in my mind that it can (and in some ways it already has). Is there still room in the patent space with reagards to this technology? Yep - and that's the goal of a lot of the current research.

    I should have looked more closely at the title of this thread "Nickel Iron vs. Lead Acid - Off Grid battery debate". The DEBATE word should have cued me in that firm opinions had already been set. Going forward, I'll try to limit my discussions on this board to more non controversial subjects such as array configurations, charge controller settings, etc. For the record, I'd like to leave this thread with one last thought as it has served me well over the years in my career:

    "It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast." - credit Konrad Lorenz - 1973 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

    Leave a comment:

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