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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I am hoping I can get some info./assistance/guidance from some of you kind and knowledgeable folks... I do realize this is an EV forum, but I know you can still give me good advice.

THE SHORT:

BALQON = NO USER MANUAL or USER GUIDE = NO COMMUNICATION = MY 27kwh LiFEPo4 Battery pack sitting outside for several months NOT hooked up = me freaking out about self discharge (which I didn't even know existed) and a possible 800lb. expensive brick!!!

THE LONG:

This past summer (2015) my wife and I refinanced our house, took out loans, and spent our life savings to pursue our mutual life-long dream of a full turnkey Solar scenario.

The goal was to get all the components in and then hire a local professional to put it all together and guide us through it all, including the use and maintenance.

After doing some comparisons of battery options I decided to go with LiFEPo4. I contacted Balqon, and Samra (CEO?) spent well over an hour on the phone with me and convinced me that was the route to go and that his company was the way to go.

We went through a Solar company to get 24 panels, mounts, a Schneider/Midnight Classic all-in-one wall of electronics and a 27kwh battery bank in an external enclosure, from Balqon.

Balqon took tons longer to ship than promised, after awful communication. Then, despite calls and emails DAILY from myself as well as from the company I bought it through, we still have yet to get a response. And all we were trying to do was get a User Manual or User Guide for the 27kwh battery pack. You know, "This is how you hook it up, Do this, Don't do this, This button does this, This is how to actually open it up, etc..."

Well, then there had been ridiculous and extensive problems and delays in getting the mounting in. (FedEx Freight basically ran over everything with a fork lift, then I get sent the wrong stuff, then they won't send the right stuff, then they want me to pay for the right stuff cause it's not what they were told to send, etc...)

So, as of today I now have all the components in. (Except any of the information I needed from Balqon, that is.)

While online last week doing some research I ran across people talking about self-discharge (which, again, nobody ever told me was even a thing) and how it could brick your battery. (I am aware of the BMS and it's self cut-off to prevent it getting too low, etc.) Well now I am FREAKING OUT!!! Due to all the calamity of errors and delays, the battery has been sitting outside untouched for several months! I don't know how much charge it came with, how to hook it up, nor how to operate it (because I never got a manual, nor did I have everything in to begin an install)

From the looks of things it will probably be this Spring until the panels are mounted and we are ready to actually hook up to it.

So, please, tell me, what do I do??? Assuming I hit the "On" button and it isn't dead, how on earth can I put a charge into it without all the solar panels hooked up to get it to last till the spring without bricking? Can I hook jumper cables up to it from my car for countless hours? Is there a way to hook up a generator directly to it without the wall of electronics? Can I plug into it from my house? I mean, I don't need to fill it up and worry about an over charge, I just need to keep it from dying.

Then, If I go to push the "On" button and nothing happens, or it is totally dead what options do I have?

Quite Sincerely,

Recent Newb
 

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Your post kind of sounds like spam, so if it is, you need to brush up on your skils, but I'll try to answer:

They aren't your best choice if you don't know how to charge and discharge and use a voltmeter on your own batteries. You were better off using a smaller retailer. But anyway...

Just measure them with a voltmeter, one by one. Mine arrived sitting around 3.25 volt. I doubt there will be any self-discharge, just go measure and report.

josh
 

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Ha. Wow... I guess if I read my post in a different light it DOES sound like a huge sob story from out of the country looking for donations. Oops. Sorry. - I don't want any body's money or information. I just want guidance.

I apologize if I came off wrong, unfortunately every detail is completely true and I have run into the whole "You don't know what you don't know" thing, despite having done alot of research. I am still new to this and I did go through a small company. THEY just went through the other guys.

Anyway, to the point...The enclosure was originally shipped right at 6 mo. ago... so it has been sitting for that long.

It is a 27kwh 48Volt bank in an EXTERNAL Enclosure. The company has updated their products and the original product page but it would fall under this current page's category: http://www.balqon.com/residential-en...orage-ess-r24/

Mine is in an enclosure similar to this one:

< http://www.balqon.com/online-store/#!/Commercial-Energy-Storage-50-kWhr/p/48565112/category=12286450 >

I can't get a hold of Balqon to get a user manual that they never sent, nor is there one on their website. So I am reticent to just crack into the thing and start checking cell voltages.

But mine does not have the fancy display. Just a simple one that will show a general "% charge led" Which may be good enough. So I could push the on button and probably see what it says, but I'm not sure I want to until I get a Battery Charger and am immediately ready to hook it up.

The enclosure itself has two connector points on the side that in theory I believe I just stick the leads in and tighten the knobs around it.

The option of hooking up the inverter/charge controller board (Schneider Pre Wired Inverter with two Midnite classic 150 Charge Controllers Model # MNXWP6848-2CL150) right now is not an option due to all of that being away in storage and the panels not up yet. The battery bank is in my back yard.

I read extensively about the threats of over discharging, but was ignorant of the whole "self-discharge" thing.

The entire system that was put together was to be more or less self regulating once installed and set up.


I appreciate your stance on jumping in too deep, and I wholeheartedly agree, but in my defense, all pride having been stripped expensively away...
A) the plan and the assurances of the solar company I went through (out of state) was to have all the components here within a month's time, and then I would install the mounts/panels myself and hire a local professional to hook everything up and walk us through the really advanced stuff.
B) I don't think Shakespeare himself could have foreseen or written such a ridiculous tragedy/comedy of errors such as these last 6 months!

Sincerely
 

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Hi

Self discharge in the cells is not likely to be a problem
BUT that unit may have internal discharge that would become a problem over a matter of month

(1) - buy a voltmeter - you will need one

(2) - carefully take the lid off so that you can see the cells - look for tamper paint on any of the screws and photograph it - so you can replace it later

(3) - check the cell voltages

(4) - report back on what you find
 

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The cells themselves can be stored for years if not connected to anything at all. However, it sounds like they are in a container and possibly connected to other circuitry (BMS). That other circuitry could discharge and imbalance the pack.

Best wishes on your project.
 

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Balqon was the first sign of trouble. They don't have a very good reputation. Sucky customer service and questionable sales practices. Yes, check the cells but please get some photos of the units with the tops on and off so we can see what is connected. If anything is connected internally you may have trouble but the voltage meter will be your friend here. Get a decent one because many of the cheap ones crap out and if it does you still won't know. Use Good tools always.
 

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If the delay in charging them is because you won't have panels hooked up for awhile, you can use something else to charge them. The panels are chargers, but the battery does not know if the charge is coming from a solar charger or from a charger that you lug into a wall. Charge is charge. I would take the wise advice that others have left here on this thread and buy that meter right away and learn to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I get back into town Sunday afternoon. If the weather is clear I'll take pix and log all the cell voltages.

Thanks for those offering constructive advice. I am greatly appreciative.

And if my post is "BS" because I also posted onto 2 other forums, then I'm sorry to have wasted your time. I did not realize that the exact same people, with the exact same expertise, frequent the exact three forums. Thanks for being so welcoming.

If you don't know what you don't know then wisdom states to pursue guidance from different sources and not put all your eggs in one basket. Not everyone is so proud and jaded as to simply dismiss or attack those with less knowledge or in legitimate need.
 

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We have lots of stuff that flows through this site that is just BS. When people post on multiple sites trying to gain information usually raises flags of troll or something. It is the nature of forums. Have patience my friend. No need to post on multiple sites. Post then wait for an answer. Give it some time. Don't expect instant results. We wish to help but we have wasted lots of time on bull shit posts in the past.


Check your stuff then post. We are happy to help those that are for real.
 

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Ah. I see. - I can see that. I am definitely a "forums newbie". Google kinda led me. Haha.

Thank you. Really. I will.
 

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Hey guys,

I switched on the enclosure today and I'll list the exact results below. The display has 2 buttons side by side that each cycle through a top or bottom row of basic info. Without a manual, I assume they reflect the top and bottom level of batteries inside??? Or maybe they both represent the whole so you can check two different numbers at once. Cause both rows said the exact same thing as I cycled through both buttons.

" 0 A "
" 0 W "
" 52.4 V "
" 66F Tmp "
" 1.0 Ah "
" 52 Wh "
" E F "
" 0% Fuel "
" 0% SoC "
" 0 A "

I'll also attempt to upload the pictures I took. A couple of things I noticed immediately was:

A) condensation on all the cross bars bridging cells. (stupid question, but how do I wipe them off without shorting anything out or electrocuting myself???)

B) the black squares on every 3 cells (8 on each level = 16 total) (the BMS Sensors???) were all blinking, even though I had the battery bank turned off.

C) the top row and the bottom row had 24 cells each. So the whole bank has a total of 48 cells. (Is that 1 cell for each of the 48V that the system is?)


I went by Home Depot and got a $99 Klein Multi Meter. - Depending on your advice I'll try to check the cells tomorrow. From the looks of the inside of the enclosure I'm not sure how many of the bottom row I can actually reach.

I'm still trying to figure out where I can actually go buy a 48v charger in person instead of having to order one online and wait. Even if I have to drive an hour away to get one. But if this thing is "dead" would there be any special instructions or specific charger to trying to revive it before officially pronouncing it a lost cause?

Thanks
 

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Hair dryer works on condensation.

Golf course repair shop. Or forklift repair place. Both places have various styles of chargers.
 

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I am surprised to see no banding or other means of compression of the cells. They don't even appear to be secure for shipment or moving the cabinet. It does appear to have a BMS system installed so there will be a parasitic drain. Spec claims self discharge of 1%/month. Most Li batteries are recommended to be shipped and stored at 50% SOC. But you never know for sure. I recommend you get a professional to help you or you risk losing your investment.

Also I think you should get the manual for the cells used. That should have info on compression and service and maintenance. One thing looks to be difficult in that cabinet is periodic torquing of the terminal bolts. I don't see how to get a torque wrench on each terminal.
 

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First thing, your battery pack is in good shape. With 16 cells in series and a voltage of 52,4v that imply an average of 3,275v per cell and this is good.

With a multimeter, you can measure the voltage between each cell (actually comprised of three grey cell in parallel). Simply put each lead wire of the multimeter to each of the long aluminum bar (see picture). You should read around 3,25v and 3,30v.
If the voltage between multiple cells (let say 6 to 12 cells) is closely match at around 3,275v you can consider that all the other cells would be at the same voltage.
Any cell below 3.00v should be consider as problem.
 

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condensation on all the cross bars bridging cells. (stupid question, but how do I wipe them off without shorting anything out or electrocuting myself???)
Maybe sponge or plastic squeegee.
At low voltage like 48v electrocuting yourself is almost impossible, but be careful about the shorting. Any conductor between almost any metal part of your battery can result in a freaking fire work.
So, no trouble to touch with your hands, but be careful with metal tool or others.

B) the black squares on every 3 cells (8 on each level = 16 total) (the BMS Sensors???) were all blinking, even though I had the battery bank turned off.
Normal, powered by each cell. 16 cells in series. 16 BMS modules.
You can find the blinkink code in the mini BMS manual here: http://minibms.mybigcommerce.com/pages/Product-Support.html

I add another picture to help you understand the cell count.
Good luck.
 

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