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bobrok 01-14-2008 10:35 AM

charging gel battery
I have a recreational cabin that is off the power grid and I rely on a PHV system and AC inverter for my electrical supply and am looking to purchase a generator for backup. On those occasions when the power runs low (or during overcast weather) I want to be able to use the generator to recharge the batteries while I am supplying AC power to the cabin. (We don't have a huge power demand and I think even a small generator would be sufficient for my needs). Many generators have a DC output but I have been warned not to use this to recharge gel based batteries. I am going to assume here for the sake of opening conversation that this is because the DC output is not regulated and there is a chance of battery overcharge.
Am I correct in this assumption or is there something else about gel batteries that would make recharging them with a generator dangerous? Would this not apply to wet cell batteries as well?
Rather than use the DC output can I use a battery charger off the AC output to safely recharge these batteries instead?
Thanks in advance for your replies.

Rehabber 01-14-2008 11:58 AM

The mfg of your batteries will have an voltage and amperage spec for charging these batteries, once determined, purchase a charger that will not exceed these specs and plug it in to your AC generator

NateHanson 01-14-2008 01:21 PM

I'd just get an AC charger that has an output that can be set for a gel-type battery.

Alternatively, it may be cheaper (and more effective) to simply buy a charge regulator (like those sold for solar panels), and run your generator's DC output through that charge regulator to charge your gel battery. I'd call one of the solar suppliers, and ask what regulator they'd recommend for your application. Regulators cost about $20-100 depending on capacity and sophistication.

Presumably you've already got a regulator on your solar setup. If not (and your solar array is more than 30 watts or so) then you really need a regulator there too, to avoid doing damage to your battery, and to optimize the charge you get from your array.

joed 01-14-2008 04:35 PM

Make sure the generator dc output has a enough current rating to charge you batteries in decent time if you go that route.

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