Why your Lead Acid Battery is all Swollen Up

Working in the solar Energy industry in Ghana, I often come across several batteries that are swollen up .These mostly lead acid batteries have often than not, been purchased at very high prices not too long ago. On this particular occasion our team was conducting a survey at a prospects home in Tema when I noticed that all of her eight 100Ah batteries were swollen.

Typically a 100Ah battery will cost between $200-$300 depending on quality .In addition to this, most suppliers in Ghana give little or no warranty even though some global brands like Victron Energy give up to two year warranty on their batteries .This article aims to reveal to the public why lead acid batteries swell-up and how to avoid the problem.

Sealed lead acid batteries – both AGM and gelled electrolyte can swell up and expand sometimes. This happens due to the construction of lead acid batteries which is referred to as “recombinant”. They are constructed in such a way to allow absorption of gasses released during the chemical process inside the battery.

The positive and negative plates are placed very close together with only the thickness of the divider separating them. They are tightly secured in the cell cavity resulting in very little extra space inside the battery. When the cell plates expand, it exerts pressure on the inside walls of the battery. This situation can cause the battery case to swell resulting in possible splits and cracks at various points of the battery.

Why Do Battery Cell Plates Expand?

The cell plates most often expand due to overcharging of the battery. The battery may also expand due to shorting of the terminals of the battery. Both these situations results in heating up of the cell plates inside the battery. The lead of the cell plates has a high expansion rate when heated.

The outcome is that the battery experiences extreme pressure inside that swells up and deforms it. The swelling-up of the battery may also cause great damage to the internal components and parts.

Why your Lead Acid Battery is all Swollen Up ,How to Avoid Swelling Up of the Battery?

Overcharging or short-circuiting of the battery is the only reason for swelling up of the lead acid battery. The problem is not inherent in the battery itself. In order to avoid swelling up of the battery you need to tackle the underlying cause of the problem.

You need to follow proper instructions in charging the battery. The culprit may be that you are using a wrong charger when charging the battery. If the charger is providing too much current, this may be the cause for battery swelling up. For instance, if you used 24V charger to charge a 12V battery it will most probably result in overcharging of the battery.

Whatever the reason for overcharging of the device, the end result is the swelling up of the battery. To avoid the prospect of overcharging or short-circuiting of the battery, you need to take the following precautions:

  • Use the right type of charger that is fully compatible with the battery.
  • Ensure proper polarity when connecting the charger to the battery
  • Shield the battery terminals to avoid short-circuiting of the battery
  • Use a charger whose maximum charging capacity is lower than the battery
  • Using a good quality charger
Victron Energy Blue smart charger is a good choice for small battery banks in Ghana

Victron Energy Blue smart charger is a good choice for small battery banks in Ghana

 Battery charging tip: increase battery life with Victron 4-step adaptive charging

Victron developed the adaptive charge curve. The 4-step adaptive charge curve is the result of years of research and testing.

The Victron four-step adaptive charge curve solves the 3 main problems of the 3 step curve:

  • Battery Safe mode

In order to prevent excessive gassing, Victron has invented the ‘Battery Safe Mode’. The battery Safe Mode will limit the rate of voltage increase once the gassing voltage has been reached. Research has shown that this will reduce internal gassing to a safe level.

  • Variable absorption time

Based on the duration of the bulk stage, the charger calculates how long the absorption time should be in order to fully charge the battery. If the bulk time is short, this means the battery was already charged and the resulting absorption time will also be short, whereas a longer bulk time will also result in a longer absorption time.

  • Storage mode

After completion of the absorption period the battery should be fully charged, and the voltage is lowered to the

float or standby level. If no discharge occurs during the next 24 hours, the voltage is reduced even further and the battery goes into storage mode. The lower storage voltage reduces corrosion of the positive plates.

Once every week the charge voltage is increased to the absorption level for a short period to compensate for selfdischarge (Battery Refresh mode

The above tips will help you to protect your battery from swelling up and expanding. Taking precautions will not only protect your battery from being damaged but it will also minimize the threat of fire caused due to overheating of the battery.

Click here for more information on Victron Energy AGM & Gel batteries


Air conditioning & the rising electricity tariffs in Ghana

My Nigerian friends often say Ghanaian folk have a signature look, very dark skin and red eyes. This they claim is as a result of the scorching sun in Ghana. Ghana is hot o…….

Average temperatures often range between  35-40 degree Celsius with high levels of humidity . Due to the nature of the weather in Ghana Air-conditioning is no longer a luxury.Most homes and offices who can afford , have invested in one form of cooling or the other while those who cant have settled for fans.But what happens when there is erratic power supply and load shedding  AKA Dumsor  in Ghana? I bet that is another topic for another day.

little children cooling off in bowls of water at home on a sunny day in Accra

Recent electricity price hikes in Ghana have made Air Conditioners a pain point for most who are concerned about their electricity bills. Electricity bills increase significantly when an air conditioner is added to the list of appliances in a household. Although it is difficult to significantly reduce the “big” impact of an air conditioner on your electricity bills, it can be managed by choosing the right technology, and following the right installation/maintenance/operation procedure and also putting into consideration the insulation of room where the air conditioner is being operated.The latest and the most efficient technology that is available on market today is the Inverter Technology for air conditioners. Inverter technology is designed in such a way as to save 30-50% of electricity (units consumed) compared to regular air conditioning systems.At Nocheski ,we live up to our promise of driving your business with technology and we recommend the use of energy efficient appliances such as inverter Air-conditioners from brands including LG,Daikin and Samsung , Gencool just to name a few.

How do air conditioners work?

For most people, air conditioner just throws cool air at the temperature one sets it at. But does it really work that way? In principle, an air-conditioner during the cooling process, takes the indoor air, cools it by passing it through evaporator and releases it back in the room. It is quite opposite to how our good old air coolers used to work. Air coolers used to take outside air, cool it with water and throw it in. But air conditioners just work on internal air. Along with evaporator an air conditioner also has a compressor that compresses the gas (refrigerant) in the AC to cool it that in turn cools the incoming internal air from the room.

In a regular air conditioner:

The compressor is either off or on. When it is on, it works at full capacity and consumes the maximum electricity it is designed to consume. When the thermostat reaches the temperature level set in the AC, the compressor stops and the fan (in AC) continues to operate. When the thermostat senses that the temperature has increased, the compressor starts again.

Air Conditioners with Inverter Technology

The inverter technology works like an accelerator in a car. When compressor needs more power, it gives it more power. When it needs less power, it gives less power. With this technology, the compressor is always on, but draws less power or more power depending on the temperature of the incoming air and the level set in the thermostat. The speed and power of the compressor is adjusted appropriately. Originally developed in Japan for use in air-conditioning systems, digital inverter technology is now applied globally in appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and even microwave ovens.

Samsung has a new line-up of household appliances for the digital home that saves on cost and offers more features.

Samsung has a new line-up of household appliances for the digital home that saves on cost and offers more features.

What is benefit of Inverter Technology?

Every air conditioner is designed for a maximum peak load. So a 1.5hp AC is designed for a certain size of room and 1 hp for a different size. But not all rooms are of same size. A regular air conditioner of 1.5hp capacity will always run at peak power requirement when the compressor is running. An air conditioner with inverter technology will run continuously but will draw only that much power that is required to keep the temperature stable at the level desired. So it kind of automatically adjusts its capacity based on the requirement of the room it is cooling thus requiring less electricity for efficient operation although air conditioner with Inverter Technology adjusts its capacity based on the room requirement, it is very important to install a right sized air conditioner in a room. Please make sure that you evaluate the room and air conditioner capacity before you make a purchase.For further clarifications on this subject ,you may contact our produuct specialist in Tema  here


“Just  2% of Ghana’s land can provide 924GWh of power annually” ( Maxmillian Kwarteng  ,Gramax Energy Group)

Before I begin, permit me to ask this, if Oil and Gas for Thermal Power Plants and the other fossils are that “Cheap” as some want us to believe, why then are electricity rates still going up?Every hour, the sun radiates more energy onto our earth than the entire human population uses in one whole year. The technology required to harness the power of the sun is available now. Solar power alone could provide all of the energy Ghanaians consume and there is no shortage of solar energy like there has been with the Akosombo Dam in recent days. The truth is, we do not need advanced math skills to follow and perform the solar arithmetic to prove that Ghana’s energy independence could be achieved with solar energy.

Every square meter (1m²) of the earth’s surface, when exposed to direct sunlight, receives about 1000 watts (1 kilowatt) of energy from the sun’s light. In reality, this power per hour for every square meter (1m²) might be more or less, depending on the angle of sunlight, which changes with the time of day, and the geographical location. On average, the sub Saharan region of Africa receives about (3 – 4 kilowatt per hour) of solar energy.

Nonetheless, studies have revealed promising potential for this resource in Ghana. According to the SWERA Ghana Project report, Wa, the capital of the Upper West region, has the highest level of solar irradiation (5.524 KWh/m2-day) across the country. May is the month with the highest solar irradiation (5.897 KWh/m2-day), with August recording the lowest measurement (4.937kWh/m2-day) in Wa. Akim Oda on the contrary is the location that records the lowest radiation (4.567kWh/m2-day) measurements across the country. The highest measurement in Akim Oda was recorded in the month of April (5.176kWh/m2-day) and the lowest in August (3.802kWh/m2-day).

 

Table 1: Summary of Solar irradiation in kWh/m2-day – SWERA Report

Synoptic Station Ground

(kWh/m2-day)

Satellite

(kWh/m2-day)

% Error
Kumasi 4.633 5.155 -11.3
Accra 5.060 5.180 -2.3
Navrongo 5.505 5.765 -4.7
Abetifi 5.150 5.192 -0.8
Akuse 4.814 5.58 -15.9
Wa 5.520 5.729 -3.7
Akim Oda 4.567 5.177 -13.3
Wenchi 5.020 5.093 -1.5
Ho 5.122 5.223 -2.0
Kete Krachi 5.280 5.345 -1.3
Takoradi 5.011 5.200 -3.8
Yendi 5.370 5.632 -4.8
Bole 5.323 5.570 -4.6

 

This estimate tells that sunlight will provide useful solar energy for about 4 to 6 hours per day because during the early hours and late hours of the day the angle of the sun’s light is too low.Therefore, let us assume for every square meter (1m²) exposed to continuous direct sunlight [in an optimal geographical location] for an average of 4.5 hours a day, we will have received 4.5 hours x 1000 watts = 4500 watthours (4.5kwh/m²) of solar energy during the course of a day. It would be great if 100% of the sunshine became electricity, but solar energy and electricity are not the same. Technology accomplishes the conversion of solar energy to electricity.

Revelers enjoy sun and water at Ghana's famous Labadi beach in Accra

Revelers enjoy sun and water at Ghana’s famous Labadi beach in Accra

Conversion of one form of energy to another always causes a loss of energy. In other words, the new form of energy will be less than the original. Efficiency is the word used to describe the difference in power resulting from the conversion of one form of energy to another. The efficiency of commercially available solar panels (PV) is now between 15% – 40.7%. This means that when a solar panel converts the sun’s light to electricity, only about 15 to 40.7 percent of the energy in the sunlight becomes electricity. The same thing is true of gasoline in your car and other thermal engines. Your car’s engine can only convert about 25 percent of the energy in gasoline to mechanical energy that turns the wheels.

With an average efficiency of 15 to 40.7 percent, every square meter (1m²) of solar photovoltaic cells (PV) would produce (4.5 kilowatthours of solar energy multiplied by 15% =) between 0.68 kilowatthours of electric energy per day.

Solar panels (PV) covering an area of 100m²(1 Plot of Land) would produce 100 x .68 = 68 kilowatthours of electricity per day. It is worth noting that 68kwh per day is a lot of electricity for a single family home.

 

Let’s juxtapose this arithmetic nationwide to the unused land surface:

– Size of Unreserved forest land in Ghana = 5 x 10³km² è 5 x 10⁹m².

– Assuming a Conversion Efficiency (Solar Panels) of 15%.

– Average Solar Irradiation 4.5kilowatthours (kwh) è 4500wh/day

– Annual average solar radiation = 4.5 x 365 è 1642.5kwh/m².y

– Assuming a Performance ratio, coefficient for losses of 0.75

So, 0.15 x 1642.5kwh/m².y x 5 x 10⁹m² x 0.75  è 923.9Gwh/y

in May 2015 #DumorMustStop campaign was spearheaded by Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and was patronized by many other celebrities

in May 2015 #DumorMustStop campaign was spearheaded by Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and was patronized by many other celebrities

Like in Germany where Solar energy powered 50% of its midday electricity needs on May 26, 2012, this amount of energy can be used for same in Ghana.It is interesting to note that this amount of energy has been calculated from an area of 5,000km² which is only 2% of the total surface area of Ghana.In 2004, Ghanaians consumed 5,158 gigawatthours (GWh) of electricity. NEDCO alone contributed 340GWh out of this figure. This contribution from NEDCO is only one third of my estimate of the calculated solar potential. It is estimated that about half of this amount is consumed by domestic (or residential) consumers for household uses such as lighting, ironing, refrigeration, air conditioning, television, radio and the like.

In conclusion, let me say that the improved technology surrounding solar power is very significant. It has brought clean energy within practical use. Given the significant environmental benefits, there is a very strong case for government intervention to accelerate the switch to solar power. The reluctance to switch to solar power is delaying our national progress in living standards.

Source: Maxmillian Kwarteng | Gramax Energy Group – GEG | [email protected]


 

Bill Gates once again shunned solar power from his vision for energy access in Africa in his talk at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, where he argued that whilst “cheap, clean energy” is what Africa needs, solar does not fit the bill.

During the delivery of his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist identified that Africa, like the rest of the world, is in need of a “breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone.”

Africa is more dependent on such a phenomenon than other continents, because seven in ten Africans still lack power at present, while more than 500 million Africans still will not have electricity by 2040.

This is not the first time Gates has taken a less than welcoming stance to solar power. In February, during an interview with a news outlet, he echoed a similar thought. “When I say ‘an energy miracle’,” he said, “I mean that there will be some form of energy whose 24-hour cost really is competitive with hydrocarbons given, say, 20 years of learning curve.

“You invent it, then you look at how much its costs go down over the next 20 years, that it really beats hydrocarbons.

“You might say, well, aren’t people saying that about wind and solar today? Not really. Only in the super-narrow sense that the capital costs per output, when the wind is blowing, is slightly lower.”

In fact, Gates has been advocating anti-solar sentiment for a while. In 2014, he blogged about energy poverty, arguing for outdated fossil fuel solutions to tackle the electricity deficit in underdeveloped economies, characterising energy poverty as a climate issue.

Solar is ‘not enough’

In the speech on Sunday, the software entrepreneur recommended increased investment in renewables, namely hydropower and geothermal. He went on to argue that recently launched solar power initiatives have not been enough:

“There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar,” he said. “This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.”

PV Tech contacted the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), who vehemently disagreed with Gates’ sentiments.

“To downplay the role that solar photovoltaics (PV) can play as part of a unique African energy mix in the strive to alleviate Africa’s energy constraints would be irresponsible,” a spokesperson said, whilst citing data that should deem solar a ‘no brainer’ solution for Africa: “Africa has 7 of the 10 sunniest countries on earth and, according to IHS Technology, a US-based economic and energy market research company, Africa’s total solar power–generating capacity is projected to reach 3,380MW by 2017.”

bill-gates-quote

Solar deployment in Africa

In fact, solar power is undergoing rapid deployment and implementation as many countries across the continent are battling energy crises and look to alternatives to expensive fossil fuels such as diesel and coal. A series of feed-in tariffs and solar tenders have offered a foray into a solution that not only is clean and inexpensive, but is easily accessible.

In South Africa in particular, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has successfully awarded 965MW of new solar capacity, which SAPVIA points out “is being delivered on time and on budget”.

“The rapidly escalating uptake of the technology in the rest of Africa can be clearly seen,” argued SAPVIA. “Expedited solar PV roll-out is being seen as supportive policies and regulations, such as the Get FIT Programme are developed and implemented. These policies and programmes, combined with the drop in the cost of PV technology (currently fully off-grid solar-PV technologiesdeployed at site can be deployed for as little as US$ 0.15/kWh and they do not require additional expensive transmission networks to move the electricity around), [we] see solar PV will make a significant impact on Africa and its energy challenges.

“One can expect – as has happened in South Africa – as the necessary supportive policies and regulations are scaled up, the rest of Africa will experience an increased uptake of solar PVtechnology. New renewable energy markets in Africa are already showing greater appeal to international and local investors – further spurring the uptake of solar PV in African markets.”


Salima Visram is the 23-year-old entrepreneur behind the Soular, a backpack company equipped with solar panels, which allow children who don’t have access to electricity in rural parts of Africa to study at night without having to use an expensive and carcinogenic kerosene lamp. Soular will be launching a new one-for-one model today, through the sale of trendy backpacks on HSN in collaboration with Disney, alongside their new movie, Queen of Katwe, which is set in rural Uganda, where the kerosene lamp is central to the plot of the story.

“I was inspired to launch Soular after seeing how some children in Kenya, where I grew up, were not able to study every day and get into secondary school, which perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty,” Visram said.

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, is a supporter of Soular Backpack. Nyong’o and Disney went with the Soular team to Katwe in Uganda to distribute backpacks there in July.  Soular will also be showcased at the premiere of the movie in Hollywood later this September.

“On every Soular Backpack, there’s a quote from Lupita that reads, ‘The Power Is In Your Step,’” Visram said. watch the video here

Visram launched Soular by starting a crowdfunding campaign, which exceeded its goal by 25% raising $50,000. Soular has since distributed hundreds of backpacks across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

“So far, we’ve distributed backpacks to 500 children but we’ve realized that with one backpack in the family, on average 3 children are able to study with it,” Visram said.

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Visram has big plans for Soular.

“The next phase of Soular would be to scale the one-for-one model across North America in a big way and make sure that everyone who needs a backpack is aware that they could buy a backpack that gifts light to a child in need,” Visram said. “We’re excited to position ourselves as a leading backpack company that stands to create social impact.”

Soul’s new one-for-one backpack is for sale on HSN for $49.95 in two colors, navy and white

Visram stays committed to making Soular a company that finds sustainable solutions to poverty.

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

“My vision for Soular is to make a holistic system of interventions and services that give people the tool to alleviate themselves from poverty,” Visram said. “We want to partner with a bank, so that the money saved on kerosene every month goes into a secondary education fund for the child. We want to set up micro-franchises in rural villages to sell lamps and batteries, in order to generate employment. We’ve just moved production to Kenya, which is creating more employment and impact within the region. Realizing how electricity is at the center of education, health and economic development is also something that inspired me to start it.”