OT- Lead acid battery care
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  1. #1
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    Default OT- Lead acid battery care

    Before anyone says "that's been discussed a zillion times" I did do a search and gave up. I am asking this here rather then search the web because frankly I don't trust the opinion of half the yahoos who post on the web. Most yahoos on this forum are ferreted out and turned into hamburger fairly quickly so I trust most of the opinions here. My question is this. I have some lead acid batteries that I use to charge electric fences. I just set them on the ground and hook up to the fence charger. I have heard (could be old wives tale) that setting a battery on a concrete floor is not good for the battery. Would setting one in the dirt cause a problem? I can't see where it would discharge through the dirt. They sit in a steel battery tray in your car and they don't discharge. If it is true then what is the deal with concrete? Thanks.

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    Cant see why it would hurt..except perhaps setting so still might make containments or minerals from other than distilled water make more likely to bridge plates...

    Just guessing with that.. often science and logic may say that does/should not matter.. but when something happens likely there is a reason.

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    This tale comes from the days of model Ts which had wooden battery cases. Acid would get spilled on them and absorbed and placing it on anything that the acid might ionize would allow a conductive path and it would slowly discharge. This problem went away with hard rubber and now plastic cases.

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    The problem with setting a battery in contact with a cold floor was temperature stratification of the electrolyte during storage. This isn't a problem for a battery that is being used and charged. FWIW, a couple of the local trap and skeet clubs use radio triggered 12 volt portable clay throwers. The batteries often sit on the ground even in winter but they are being exercised after every launch when the motor re-cocks the throwing arm. In some places the batteries stay out and get recharged by solar cells. The other ones are collected at the end of the day and recharged.

    Main thing for something like a fence battery is gentle recharge. For standby use AGM batteries I use chargers that can not go above 13.8 volts. It can sit there for months without damage.

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    About the only issue I've heard about with a lead acid battery standing for long periods is the denser sulphuric acid settling to the bottom and requiring bubbles from a full charge to mix it up again. Gel and AGM won't have this problem due to their construction.

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    No issues with modern batteries resting on the ground.

    Biggest concern is charging VOLTAGE...no AMPS...

    Wait...what?

    This one stumps folks but it is easy.

    Most lead acid batteries prefer to be float charged for optimum life.

    Trickle charge is same almost.

    The maximum current for float charging is 0.1% of labeled 8 hour rate.

    So the typical battery for a fence may be 10 amp hours.

    1% of 10 amps is 0.1 amps so 0.1% is 0.01 amps and most cannot reliably measure this.

    So instead we use voltage measurement and the manufacturer data sheet that indicates the charging voltage and set it to the sheet.

    Having a well regulated constant voltage supply helps or if solar then a panel that outputs enough to charge the battery then float it is fine.

    For 12 volt battery 13.5 volts usually is right in the sweet spot.

    14 will ruin it.

    VRLA or gell cells do not like over charging.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk

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    The older batteries with the removable caps had a lot of acid on top of the battery if not cleaned regularly. Here in south Texas there is a lot of dew in the morning and things uncovered sitting on the ground will be wet in the morning. If the top of the battery is dirty especially with acid on top then they can discharge through the wet acid on top. I have left clean batteries out on the ground for a month put them in a vehicle and started right up. (dew with no contamination is essentially a nonconductor)
    I have had some that believed the old wives tales come unglued if I set a battery on the ground for a minute. Like the OP said they sit in a grounded metal tray in the car all the time with no issues.
    Keep the top clean! speaking of deep cycle batteries with the removable caps there are some new caps that return the droplets of acid to the cell without all the acid colleting on top of the battery. I have used them in my electric 4 wheeler for almost 2 years. The battery tops get dusty but no acid accumulates.
    If any are interested I will find and post the manufacture's name.

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    The OP didn't ask about charging, really.

    But, you can charge any wet cell lead acid battery at 1% to 2% of its capacity without an issue, and do it forever. So if you have a common 225 AH battery, you can just hook up an unregulated solar panel that can supply 4A, and the worst that will happen is that you need to add water more often.

    Float charging is fine, but that implies a big battery, and a small discharge, the idea being that the battery voltage never varies much. If you actually USE the battery, you will need to charge it for real, and you will need to most likely go up to around 14.4V or so on a 12V battery which is a gassing voltage. It will not "ruin" a wet cell battery. (AGM is different, don't treat them like flooded cells.)

    The ideal float voltage also varies with temperature.

    Basically, wet cell lead acid batteries are charged with current, the voltage is a function of charge rate, temperature, depth of discharge, etc, etc. You watch voltage to see what current you can jam in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottl View Post
    The problem with setting a battery in contact with a cold floor was temperature stratification of the electrolyte during storage.
    THIS. I store mine on a hunk of plywood atop a cheap HF "furniture dolly". Ambient air at wotever temp get to all sides - much as it does in a motor vehicle tray.

    No more problem than usual. Most lead-acid batteries WILL go flat if not charged now and then anyway.

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    Biggest enemy of any battery is temperature, too hot goes bad, if it freezes also goes bad, from what i've seen best is metal or wood base lined with rubber, car floor mat works fine and must be charged on regular intervals.

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    I thank everyone for your replies. I learned a lot.

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    If you DO charge with a good charge in the gassing region on a regular basis, the stratification will be zip. The bubbles that come out stir up the electrolyte.

    For a "float service" battery, that may not happen. Only diffusion does any mixing, aside from temperature-induced flows in the battery.

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    The battery for my RV generator is removed every winter, the top is cleaned, it's charged, placed in a plastic battery box, and sits in the corner of the garage until spring. No problems with it deteriorating or discharging.

    You might want to place the battery for your fence charger in a marine battery box as well - it protects the battery pretty well against weather and dropped tools.

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    I think that 99% of battery life performance has to do with the quality of the battery. Yesterday I hiked out to the back 40 to see if I could start my dozer after it has sat since September of last year. It cranked a little slow belching thick white smoke before catching and roaring to life. I bought the battery in 1992 and the dozer has had just over 1200 hours put on it over the last 25 years on this battery. My 1999 Kubota with 800 hours is still on its original OEM battery. Neither of these two batteries have received so much as a rinse, they are covered in crud and dirt. My daily driven 2007 Yukon is on its 3rd battery. Makes no sense to me as far as care or abuse . . . I do know the dozer battery was the most expensive battery I had ever purchased when I bought it.

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    Car batteries are made to be cheap, lightweight, and have "adequate" performance. They seem to last a maximum of 5-6 years, or 4 deep discharges, whichever comes first. Holding a charge is not high on the list, since the car will discharge the battery in 5 weeks regardless.

    The dozer battery is presumably much better, and obviously DOES hold a charge quite well.

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    I was told not to put batteries on concrete too, the only reason I was given is that it chills them, the casing can start to get brittle when cold then banging and bumping them can cause cracks and battery failure, keeping them on an insulator stops this, seems plausible, I put mine on some insulation board or old rubber mat.
    I have been reading about nickel iron batteries (we had them in work, back up power system, the batteries were from the 40s, still in use and working perfectly, there was a little room for stripping them, cleaning them and recharging electrolyte, caustic soda.
    Plates were steel and nickel sheet, cheap!
    Why are we still using lead batteries I don't know.
    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by boslab View Post
    Why are we still using lead batteries I don't know.
    Mark
    Compare stored power capacity vs safety, size, mass, life expectancy and cost, of various families of secondary-cells, (anything genuinely "rechargeable") and you'll "get it in one".

  21. #18
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    just an FYI....you can keep a battery for more than 100 years....the oldest I have is 1991...the heavy metal concentrate NEVER evaporates (sulfuric acid)....what makes a battery go bad is the water added to the acid ....that evaporates..and the lead plates arc....and as long as you NEVER let the water level go below the lead plates it wont degrade....EVER....there are batteries from 1880s still good because of this...every 6 months I pop the caps and fill with water....then charge it again....years and years...haven't bought a battery in I don't know how long...I have 11 snowmobiles...jetski...ATV...cars...trucks...house alarm battery....you name it....just add water and don't look back...before I learned this trick I had a battery with no caps....I cut around it and pulled sealed cap off and filled with water...then put plastic cap cover back on with silicon....then pop off silicon 6 months later...fill with water...silicon again....that's the last sealed battery I ever bought...just make sure it has caps from now on to refill

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    Nickel iron batteries are very very rugged, last a long time. They tolerate a LOT of abuse, like old-time under-car railroad service. Railroad workers were not known for electrical savvy... You can overcharge them, under--charge them, etc, and they keep working. But, they do have problems, IIRC their capacity per unit volume is lower than lead-acid, and as I recall they do not hold a charge as well, the self-discharge rate is higher. Plus they cost more.

    Folks bring them up every so often, with the usual stories about how they are "a better product suppressed by the big companies". The Edison name (he did NOT invent the nickel-iron battery) that is associated with them tends to make people think they must be good.

    Not so. Basically they fell out of favor simply because the lead-acid battery was a better-performing battery, AND it cost less. Hard to beat that.

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    yup might be a business if one knew how to restore expensive Hilo batteries.. guess I would de-plate with revers charging / rinse with fresh distilled water and re fill with acid..

    Yes i have no idea if that would work and likely not going to find the time to try.

    there is another way to de-plate a battery guy told me about but I forgot.. could ask nest time I see him.

    There is a way with running 110ac through a light bulb and the threw a battery .. I have the plans for that but never built the device...
    Just a light socket , a diode, a fuse, some wire and a plug.


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