Choosing the Correct Battery Type for Solar Panels

Solar Panels for lithium battery

In this blog I will break down the different battery types available to use with your Solar Panels. Lead acid batteries have large capacities and are often available in many places around Australia. A lot of people ask me "which battery should I use with solar panels?" I always recommend using sealed AGM lead acid batteries wherever possible and will describe in this blogs the benefits of using this type of battery with iTechworld portable solar panels.

280 Watt Solar Blanket

Starter vs. lithium Batteries
Starter batteries are designed to deliver short, high-current bursts for starting a vehicle engine, and are designed to discharge only a very small part of their capacity. If you were to use a starter battery as a way of running your caravan/motor home/camper trailer it would corrode very quickly, the plates and the chemistry are designed to stay nearly 100% fully charged most of the time. They cannot handle the discharge and charge needed when running your RV on Solar Power.

Solar Blanket

For solar charging applications, I always recommend an iTechworld lithium battery. Cheap knock off batteries are available via eBay but come with very little warranty and fake specifications which means you can never be sure of what getting. 



iTechworld Lithium Battery

Typical car batteries can be used but will not be suitable long term. iTechworld lithium batteries are designed with larger capacity. They are designed to be charged and discharged by solar and can handle the strain of using most of its capacity.

iTechworld lithium batteries HERE

 

Article author

Ian

ian@itechworld.com.au

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How to effictivley charge 12v batteries with a Generator

You’ve bought an iTechworld inverter generator with built-in 12-volt outlets. But how do you go about charging 12v batteries from your generator? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Let’s get straight to point: Most inverter generators may have a 12-volt output on them, but when it comes to the crunch, they are not designed to fully charge your batteries directly. There are two main reasons why:

First, your generator’s DC outlet is limited to a current of about 8 amps maximum. So any battery will take a while to fully charge.

Secondly, the voltage of the DC output isn’t regulated – it varies according to the generator’s RPM. This is fine if the generator is running a low load, but not if it’s running a medium to high load. Also, the generator won’t cut back the charge when the battery is nearly full, so you can’t risk leaving it charging for too long.

The bottom line: Your DC output on your generator is best for emergency or short term charging, i.e. providing your car battery a trickle charge. Anything more is a potential risk to your batteries.

So what’s the solution?

The best way to charge your battery is to run the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery charger off the generator’s AC output. This will recharge the battery much faster and accurately. Putting in a hefty 20 Amps. Also, the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery chargers regulate themselves down, so as charge builds in the battery, the charger won’t be pushing the same amount of amps. It will also cut off when the battery is fully charged.

 

So as a backup or alternative to your solar set up to charge your camping/caravan/motorhome battery packs, iTechworld Generator Inventors are a great option when they are working with the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery charger, especially as you can also run your appliances on 240v straight from the generator also.

 

 

Article author

Ian

ian@itechworld.com.au

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iTechworld Fact sheet: Pure sine wave VS modified sine wave

Alternating current
So, you’re looking to purchase an inverter to run an AC-powered device off a battery or other DC source. Will you need a pure-sine-wave inverter (PSW), or will a cheaper modified-sine-wave inverter (MSW) do the job?
 
To answer that question, let’s begin by looking at what AC is. For starters, it’s short for alternating current. In other words, it denotes a current that repeatedly changes direction. This goes for the output of both pure- and modified-sine-wave inverters. Both are AC. What sets the two apart, is how the current changes direction and how long it stays level. Have a look at the pictures below.




As you can see, the pure sine wave features a smooth, flowing rhythm. It’s similar to what you’d think of as a “wave”. Consequently, it’s also called a “true” sine wave. This is more or less what you get in your power point at home, and it is what most household appliances are designed to run on.
 
In contrast to this, the modified sine wave features prolonged highs and lows as well as plateaus at zero voltage, giving it a rather squarish look. Not surprising, then, that it’s also called a “square” sine wave.

 
Some appliances are compatible with a modified sine wave; others are not. As a general rule, the more complex the appliance, the likelier it is that it requires a pure sine wave. But to be absolutely sure, you should always go by what the manufacturer says. To give you a better idea of how the different waveforms affect different appliances, let’s have a look at the two waveforms in greater detail, though.
 
Modified-sine-wave inverters
MSW inverters utilise filters to round the corners of a square wave; hence the word “modified”. As previously mentioned, however, the shape of the wave remains quite square.
 
Because of the plateauing peak outputs, appliances running on a modified sine wave will have to deal with more power for a longer time, and this equals additional heat. For this reason, many appliances that are designed to run on grid power will overheat if run on a modified sine wave.


 
Nevertheless, MSW inverters do have their place. Since they don’t require as many components as pure-sine-wave inverters, they are relatively cheap. And they typically use DC power more efficiently than PSW inverters, meaning that your battery will last longer. So, if you plan to run only normal light bulbs and induction or shunt motors, for instance, an MSW inverter will be the right choice for you. However, as previously mentioned, take heed: if you are unsure of whether your appliance will run on MSW, make sure of it before you plug it in.
 
Pure-sine-wave inverters
Manufacturing a PSW inverter is a lot more involved than making an MSW inverter, and this translates into a higher price. But what you get for the additional cost is peace of mind. Appliances are getting increasingly complex; these days, even seemingly simple devices feature advanced microprocessors, and, oftentimes, MSW will not agree with these microprocessors. A PSW is the only safe choice.
 
For example, many devices rely on a PSW to time their operation by counting how often the wave passes through zero voltage. This works well on the smooth grid AC. But when such devices are run off an MSW inverter, their microprocessors are tricked by the MSW’s plateaus at zero voltage, which results in miscalculations of time, leading to poor performance and shorter product lifespan.


 
A PSW inverter, on the other hand, gives you an output that is close to identical to that of household power, which makes it perfect for any appliance that you’d normally plug into the wall. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that even normal household appliances may produce abnormal loads for short periods of time. Motors and fridges, for example, may require a significantly higher wattage during 5-15 seconds at start-up. Quality PSW inverters deal with this by having a 40%-100% surge capacity. So, when shopping for inverters, always read the specifications and make an informed choice.
 
In short

  • Modified-sine-wave inverters are relatively simple and cheap products that generally will use battery power more efficiently than pure-sine-wave inverters.
     
  • Only basic products such as normal lights bulbs and induction or shunt motors can safely be run on a modified sine wave.
     
  • Pure-sine-wave inverters require many components and therefore come at a higher cost. They produce current that is close to identical to that of grid AC, making them perfect for running sensitive electronics.
     
  • If in doubt as to whether your appliances can run on a modified sine wave, always check with the manufacturer.

 

iTechworld Pure Sine Wave inverters HERE

 

Article author

Ian

ian@itechworld.com.au

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iTechworld Generator Pure Sine Wave Inverter

Determine which items you consider essential to have access to when you are the road. Consider such items as fridges, microwaves, air con units or fans, lights and other small appliances as well as medical devices such as oxygen machines.
  • Determine the wattage you will need to power the items you wish to access simultaneously. This is the continuous watts. This will determine the size of generator needed. For example, a 3000 continuous wattage generator will power a fridge, small air con units, microwaves and household items.

Place your generator outside in an open area. It should be located away from doors or windows to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your living area. Make sure the area is dry. If using during rainy weather, place it under a canopy or other covering.
  • Consider that generators will make noise. You may want to experiment with different locations. 7-10 meters away is usually a good starting point.

Follow manufacturers' instructions for recommended fuel and oil and for starting and running instructions. A typical 3000-watt generator will hold 6-7L of fuel and will run for approximately 6 hours.

Plug appliances and other items into the generator using a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord that is grounded. You can then plug power boards into the extension cord indoors. Charge your caravan batteries using generator power via the battery charging cables provided.

Tips

  • Shut generator down and let cool before refuelling.
  • Use only the oil listed in the instructions.
  • Store fuel in an approved container in a locked shed or another safe area.
  • Seek advice from iTechworld if you are unsure of wattage needs.
  • Consider starting wattage as well as running wattage when purchasing a generator. Appliances require greater power on initial startup. Check appliances for wattage info.
  • Note that Watts/KiloWatts is different from KVA.
  • To prevent theft, consider running a metal ring into the ground and secure the generator with a chain.
  • Make sure fuel is clean and no water or other liquids have been kept in the jerrycan.



 

Article author

Ian

ian@itechworld.com.au

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