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If youre going to have an off-grid system, batteries
are the heart of it.
On batteries, chances are that youll end up having
some FLAs (Flooded Lead Acid), as they are the most
available & most economical to run. If you can, get
forklift batteries, as their lifespan is far longer than
just about anything else you can buy.
Once you have these batteries, the primary maintenance
you will do will be watering the batteries. When it comes
to water, you have a couple of ways you can go; one is to
used distilled water, that you buy at a store, which is
great, the other is to use well water, if youre lucky
enough to have GOOD well water, as in not too much rust,
etc, in the water itself.
At my home, we have used our well water to water our batteries
for over 7 years. In that time, Ive learned that a
good watering system is one of the best things you can own.
If you just add water to a battery, its a time consuming,
tedious, and slightly dangerous task. Heres why:
Typical batteries are 2 volts per cell, so to have even
a 24 volt battery, you have to open (12) cells to inspect
& add water. Now, unless your battery is a real MONSTER,
chances are that youll probably have more than one
battery, so double that- now you have 24 cells to inspect.
When you open these cells to inspect them, youll
need a light strapped to your head to see into the hole
well enough to know how much water is enough, and a pair
of safety glasses.
So, you take off (24) caps, look into each hole, and try
to get the right amount of water into each hole. While youre
pouring this water, it will splash, and some of what comes
up will be acid from the battery. It makes holes in clothes,
you can buy a battery watering system.
These ingenious devices arent cheap, and it took
me YEARS to get to the point of believing that I would need
one, but after I did... I wish I'd have done it years ago.
Here's how it works:
There are special valves that fit into each cell individually,
and all of them are attached to a small tube that feeds
each cell's valve water.
The tubes come together & fit into a small contraption
that has a hose fitting on one end, and the tube fitting
on the other. Inside of this, there's a little wheel
indicator) that spins when water is passing through.
So, you hook the hose up to your hose bib, or hard plumb
it, either way.
You turn on the water.
Listen for the little wheel to stop spinning.
When it stops, you're done.
And ALL of your cells are topped off perfectly.
So, how do you know when your battery needs watering again?
You can install a little "electrolyte level indicator"
LED in one of the cells. If the light is lit, you don't
need water, but if it's out, turn on the spigot. It'll take
you MAYBE 3 or 4 minutes to water the batteries, instead
of at least an hour by hand, no safety glasses or headlights
This'll cost you $600-800 depending on where you get
it from, but I'm TELLING you it's a great thing
to have. It will extend the life of your batteries for certain,
and save you a ton of time. This is what I purchased for
my batteries, from Kevin at Commercial Battery Service in
Spokane, WA. He's an Honest guy who knows what he's
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