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iPack battery information - keeping things charged!


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There are several good posts on the iPack battery in our Knowledge Base that are worth repeating here. 

To summarize, charge your iPack battery before deploying the iPack!

Details follow...



Important Tip: keep your iPack battery charged prior to installation, it will discharge over time

the iPack is left in storage without a logger connected, the battery
"shelf life" is about 3 months; at that point the battery should be
recharged prior to installation of the iPack. The iPack circuitry is
always active and draws current in the uA range from the battery.

It is normal for office testing to be performed with the logger and iPack before field installation...

the logger and iPack are left connected without any PV charging the
system, the iPack battery will completely run down in about 3 to 4
weeks. This is due to the 2.5 mA current draw of the 2 V regulator in
the iPack. The iPack feeds the logger power instead of the D-Cells when
connected to the logger.

A good protocol would be to always
"top off" the battery before deployment. A 15 VDC 500 mA source
[universal iPack Charger, 100-240VAC Input (item: 3615)] connected to
the PV input can recharge the iPack battery in about 4 hours.

the battery has completely discharged, you really should use a wall
charger whenever possible...a PV panel may take a up to a few days to
recharge a completely discharged battery, depending on solar
conditions. Also, if you choose to use a PV panel to recharge a
completely discharged battery, do so without connecting the logger to
reduce the charge time. If the logger is connected to the iPack
(especially with sensors that require significant power), the charging
efforts can be severely hampered.

All iPacks are charged prior to shipment from NRG.



How can I check the iPack battery?

The correct place to check the iPack battery voltage from the attached Symphonie Logger is to go to:

[Home] [3][4]

This is the Utilities=>iPack screen

The iPack battery voltage will show in "real time" with 2 second updates.

screen, which shows the iPack voltage, is the Status=>iPack
screen...[Home] [2] [3]...this screen shows the status of the iPack as
of the last call attempt...it is historical, not real time.

another place to see a battery voltage is the logger status
screen...[Home] [2] [1]...this will show the voltage the logger is
running on and will range from 1.25 to 2.05 Volts. If the iPack battery
is fully charged; it powers a 2 V regulator inside the iPack which then
powers the logger. You should see 2 V here if everything is working
correctly between the logger and the iPack. With just the
logger D-Cells you will see 1.5 V.

battery can also be removed from the iPack and tested with a voltmeter
- it is important to have a test load on the battery, which will
simulate the phone being turned on. Measuring an unloaded battery will
NOT necessarily provide meaningful readings.

A 25-Watt light
bulb makes a good test load for the battery. Measure the voltage across
the battery and then again with the light bulb connected to the
battery...for a healthy battery, the voltage range should drop to 11.1
V to 11.7 V with bulb on, and float up to 12.7 V to 13.1 V or so with
bulb off.

If the bulb starts bright and then quickly dims
within a minute or so, the battery has lost capacity and should be
recharged or replaced.



 iPack voltmeter reading doesn't match battery voltage shown in SDR

iPack Voltmeter SCM will show higher voltage readings because the iPack
is off most of the time when measurements are logged. The voltage sent
with the file that shows up on the SDR screen is lower because this
instantaneous voltage measurement is taken when the iPack is awake and
the phone is on.

On the Symphonie logger's display, the
voltage shown under the iPack status menu shows the voltage when the
iPack is powered up (at the end of the call). The voltage shown on the
Symphonie screen during a voice call is the battery voltage before the
phone is powered up but while the iPack is powered up in preparation
for making a call.

It is interesting to look at the iPack
voltmeter SCM data with SDR and select "minimum". You will be able to
clearly see the battery voltage decrease during a call. This can be
helpful in evaluating how the battery responds to and recovers from
making a call.

Excessive voltage drop or slow recovery can indicate a weakened battery.


 Connecting extra PV panels to the iPack

most conditions, the normal 5 Watt PV panel provides adequate solar
charging for the iPack. In some situations, it is advantageous to add
additional PV. The easiest method is to add a second 5 Watt PV panel to
create a total of 10 Watts.

On very rare occasion, certain
users have asked if they can go to 20 Watts of PV. The only situation
where it might not be a good idea to use this size panel is if the
iPack battery is completely dead and the 20 W panel is connected on a
day with very bright sun so that it is generating the maximum amount of

This could cause the charge controller to overheat.
However, under normal circumstances (connecting the 20 W solar panel to
an iPack with a healthy, charged battery), this is not an issue and
using the 20 W panel will not cause any damage to the iPack.



Why an iPack is needed to power BP-20 and RH-5 sensors on Symphonie

NRG BP-20 sensor requires a supply voltage between 7 and 35 volts while
the RH-5 requires a supply voltage between 10 and 36 volts. A Symphonie
logger cannot supply these voltages without an iPack.

The iPack contains a 2300 mA-hr 12 V sealed rechargeable battery in order to power communications (phones) and these sensors.





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