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Old 02-02-2016, 08:55   #1
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Can my batteries be saved?

I know I am a murderer of batteries (beaten into me on another thread!) due to poor charging habits (on a mooring). Trying to get one more season out of them, as I plan on changing to Firefly batteries next year. Just can't do it this year due to budget constraints.

What I have:
2 Rolls 262 6v batteries (big ass, 90 pounds each, batteries) in series.

I took the batteries home (no small feat!) to equalize.

It took 5 hours using the West Marine 30 Amp smart battery charger's equalization mode. (I am sure there are better chargers, but it is what i happen to have). Batteries did bubble as it was equalizing. Never even remotely got warm to the touch

I let it rest 12 hours and checked the SG (below) using the Easy Red tester

batt1 +
1225
1225
1225
------- batt 2 +
1265
1265
1250

The batteries are a few years old. Water has never gotten low (below the top of the plates)

Are the batteries FUBAR, or can they be brought back to life?

Can I run the equalization mode more than once?

Are any of the battery desulfator worth looking at (pulse tech, et al)?
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:06   #2
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

by the looks of it, it looks like the batteries have lost 25% so you might need to equalize a few times to get a bit more back. What is your daily usage? how are you recharging them on a normal day?

what are the SG readings after 24hrs? with no load on the batts
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Old 02-02-2016, 10:58   #3
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Thanks... just checking to see if it was safe to equalize more than once. Hoping it wouldn't hurt more than it helped.... of if there is a better way to recover capacity

On the mooring I am using just the alternator (balmar high ouput alternator/614 regulator) and an efoy fuel cell to keep the batteries charged between use to keep the refrigeration running.

I haven't looked at the batteries in a couple days. I still have to check if time resting helped.. or not.

Also wondering if I should discharge the battery and recharge it, if that would help (and what the proper way to do it for a DIYer without high tech battery testing equipment)

Be nice to get some usable capacity out of them again
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:10   #4
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

If your readings are 12hrs later with the fridge running, then its not really a good indication if your batteries have issues. if your fridge cycles 505 of the time then that could account for the 25% loss. you really need to get them fully charged and then have no loads connected to them for 12-24hrs, then read the SG to see whats happening.
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:35   #5
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Currently the batteries are in my (warm-ish) basement with nothing attached. I am trying to give it CPR to get it ready for the summer
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:46   #6
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

The Ample Power Primer http://www.amplepower.com/primer/primer.pdf

Good information there.

Maine Sail recommends solar for living on a mooring.

U wrote: On the mooring I am using just the alternator (balmar high ouput alternator/614 regulator) and an efoy fuel cell to keep the batteries charged between use to keep the refrigeration running.

Not sure if you live aboard or not. What's your energy budget (daily) and how does the fuel cell work? Do you get back to at least 80-85% SOC? Do you ever get back to 100%?
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Old 02-02-2016, 12:23   #7
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
The Ample Power Primer http://www.amplepower.com/primer/primer.pdf

Good information there.

Maine Sail recommends solar for living on a mooring.

U wrote: On the mooring I am using just the alternator (balmar high ouput alternator/614 regulator) and an efoy fuel cell to keep the batteries charged between use to keep the refrigeration running.

Not sure if you live aboard or not. What's your energy budget (daily) and how does the fuel cell work? Do you get back to at least 80-85% SOC? Do you ever get back to 100%?
Here is the original thread... Best practice for desulfation battery bank

Nutshell
Main sail has chastised me for my murderous ways with batteries

The efoy is just a methanol 3 stage battery charger. it works well. Permanent solar is not an option to me.

The battery problem didnt show up til after I put the refrigeration in. So the problem likely existed way before that, but never called on the batteries to do any kind of work like I do now.

This is really the first time I am taking any kind of time to test the batteries. Last season was the first with the refrigeration system. On the hard, I usually put the charger on. when its done, i take it off. The efoy and alternator are the way I charge away from the dock. I literally have owned a battery SG tester for less than a year.

Don't live aboard. use it for extended weekends in the summer (north east usa). boat lives on a mooring.

At the moment the boat is inside storage , and the batteries are in the basement of my home. trying to figure out the best way to extract as much capacity for the upcoming season.

I read Measuring A Lead Acid Battery State of Charge Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
I think that is what is happening. Battery is getting charged quickly and the charger thinks it is full due to the voltage rising so fast.. and shutting off before it gets any work done. Probably the reason its not getting charged/equalized properly? No idea.. but it sounds logical in my head!

I put a volt meter on it 12 hours later and it shows 12.5 volts or so, but the SG is showing its barely alive. I think the smart charger is being fooled due to sulfation
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Old 02-02-2016, 13:16   #8
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Looking at your data, it appears that battery 1 is considerably worse off than number 2.
A couple of discharge/recharge/equalize cycles will likely help minimize the difference and get rid of some sulphation. The Rolls batteries are very robust cells, and with luck can be saved. BTW, is it possible to do them separately, ie as two 6 volt batteries? Seems intuitive (no expertise here) that when there are such differences between the batteries, one may be dragging the other down and/or inhibiting the de-sulphation process on the worse one.

Good luck with it, and hang in there!

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Old 02-02-2016, 13:33   #9
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

I think I've said this a dozen times, but I'll try once more:

1. Battery state-of-charge (SOC) has NOTHING to do with battery capacity, i.e., the ability of the battery to store and deliver energy; and

2. The specific gravity of battery electrolyte is NOT a reliable indication of battery capacity.

You can take a battery which has lost much or even most of its capacity, charge it up, let it sit overnite and still measure "good specific gravity" and 12.6 or 12.7 VDC in the morning. Ability to "hold a charge" says NOTHING about it's capacity.

The only way to reliably test battery capacity is via the 20-hour controlled route, or with a sophisticated and expensive battery capacity tester.

Yes, you can equalize a battery repeatedly. I've found the tester you're using (I have one, too) to provide only minimal equalization capacity. Voltages are too low, and the internal cycles determined by the microprocessor are annoying. Still, if it's all you've got go ahead and use it a few times, watching the battery temp, of course.

Don't waste your $$$ on battery de-sulphation devices. A few years ago in a controlled study over a couple of years I tested ten such devices and found them mostly worthless. In one memorable test, after a pair of golf-cart batteries had been cycled thru charge/discharge and sulfation cycles many times over 16 months or so, I equalized them using 15.5-17.0VDC once and they gained more capacity than with the "de-sulphation" over many months!

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Old 02-02-2016, 16:06   #10
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
I think I've said this a dozen times, but I'll try once more:

1. Battery state-of-charge (SOC) has NOTHING to do with battery capacity, i.e., the ability of the battery to store and deliver energy; and

2. The specific gravity of battery electrolyte is NOT a reliable indication of battery capacity.

You can take a battery which has lost much or even most of its capacity, charge it up, let it sit overnite and still measure "good specific gravity" and 12.6 or 12.7 VDC in the morning. Ability to "hold a charge" says NOTHING about it's capacity.

The only way to reliably test battery capacity is via the 20-hour controlled route, or with a sophisticated and expensive battery capacity tester.

Yes, you can equalize a battery repeatedly. I've found the tester you're using (I have one, too) to provide only minimal equalization capacity. Voltages are too low, and the internal cycles determined by the microprocessor are annoying. Still, if it's all you've got go ahead and use it a few times, watching the battery temp, of course.

Don't waste your $$$ on battery de-sulphation devices. A few years ago in a controlled study over a couple of years I tested ten such devices and found them mostly worthless. In one memorable test, after a pair of golf-cart batteries had been cycled thru charge/discharge and sulfation cycles many times over 16 months or so, I equalized them using 15.5-17.0VDC once and they gained more capacity than with the "de-sulphation" over many months!

Bill
Thanks for all the detailed information. It is quite helpful...

I figured something was wrong when I charged the batteries ( while in the boat) and shut off the battery switch and came back a week later and it was below 10v and the LED lights wouldnt even light up.

I have read polarizing opinions of the desulficators.. some love it.. some say its worthless... im a skeptic which is why I asked...

I can only provide the information with the tools I have available - my WM battery charger and ez red hydrometer (and voltmeter)

Usually the first question asked is what is the SG, which is why i provided it. not that it gives any absolute information about the capacity.. just stating what it is.. what I have done ... and asking where to go from here. One battery seems to have consistently higher SG numbers..figured maybe the weaker one was bringing them both down...

If there is a better portable charger to desulficate with? im not opposed to buying a new one. its not like I won't use it. i bought this one because it was a 30 amp smart charger, I was in the store, and it was a reasonable price.

When I have it in desulficate mode, it gets up to 15.x v and runs for a few hours... turning on and off at different voltages. The battery has not got hot, or even warm, to the touch (I check it every half hour or so for temp and water level).

What is a procedure for a DIY'er to test the capacity in a controlled method? Doesn't have to be super accurate but give me a rough idea what kinds of condition the batteries are actually in.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:37   #11
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Paul, see my responses in bold....


Quote:
Originally Posted by phantomracer View Post
...........

If there is a better portable charger to desulficate with? im not opposed to buying a new one. its not like I won't use it. i bought this one because it was a 30 amp smart charger, I was in the store, and it was a reasonable price.

None better that I know of, unfortunately. IMHO, one of the best ways to equalize batteries is by using a good bench DC power supply with adjustable voltage and amperage controls. This is how I do it and also how MainSail does it. But, these are not often available to the average sailor, and they're a bit pricey.

When I have it in desulficate mode, it gets up to 15.x v and runs for a few hours... turning on and off at different voltages. The battery has not got hot, or even warm, to the touch (I check it every half hour or so for temp and water level).

Yes, that's how mine works, too. Workable, but annoying and not the most effective way to do it. Still, the WM portable 30A charger is useful and it used to go on sale for around $80...a great price.

What is a procedure for a DIY'er to test the capacity in a controlled method? Doesn't have to be super accurate but give me a rough idea what kinds of condition the batteries are actually in.

You need to fully charge the battery to be tested, then apply a constant resistive load calculated as 1/20 the rated AH of the battery, e.g., for a 100AH battery you'd use a 100/20 or 5A load. For a 225AH rated bank (e.g., two T-105s in series) you'd use a 225/20 = 11.25A load.

With the load connected, you then monitor the voltage until it drops to 10.5VDC at which point the battery is effectively "dead". For a 100% healthy battery, this should take 20 hours.

If the 10.5VDC cutoff point is reached in only, say, 10 hours, it means your battery's capacity is only about 50% of its rated value.

The best way to apply and monitor a constant resistive load is by using a lab quality programmable DC load device. This is how MaineSail does it and it's great, though pricey (his Array load device costs over $700 street).

I've used an array of six 12VDC light bulbs, which can be switched in and out as needed. However, this is not fully accurate because the load changes as the voltage drops. I use an inline meter which measures voltage, amperage, kwh, etc. during the load testing process. This is not ideal but, with mental interpolations, works OK for me. Close enough for government work :-)

In addition to using a constant current resistive load device, you also need to control ambient temperature for more precise results. Should be controlled to 77 degrees F.

Bill
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:48   #12
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

I think I would separately discharge each battery to 5.25 volts, then charge them both back up and recheck your s.g. Hopefully you would be better balanced, sounds like the two batteries are at different charge levels.

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Old 03-02-2016, 09:34   #13
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Paul, see my responses in bold....




You need to fully charge the battery to be tested, then apply a constant resistive load calculated as 1/20 the rated AH of the battery, e.g., for a 100AH battery you'd use a 100/20 or 5A load. For a 225AH rated bank (e.g., two T-105s in series) you'd use a 225/20 = 11.25A load.

With the load connected, you then monitor the voltage until it drops to 10.5VDC at which point the battery is effectively "dead". For a 100% healthy battery, this should take 20 hours.

If the 10.5VDC cutoff point is reached in only, say, 10 hours, it means your battery's capacity is only about 50% of its rated value.

The best way to apply and monitor a constant resistive load is by using a lab quality programmable DC load device. This is how MaineSail does it and it's great, though pricey (his Array load device costs over $700 street).

I've used an array of six 12VDC light bulbs, which can be switched in and out as needed. However, this is not fully accurate because the load changes as the voltage drops. I use an inline meter which measures voltage, amperage, kwh, etc. during the load testing process. This is not ideal but, with mental interpolations, works OK for me. Close enough for government work :-)

In addition to using a constant current resistive load device, you also need to control ambient temperature for more precise results. Should be controlled to 77 degrees F.

Bill
great, thats very helpful. Need to get a pulse if it is worth putting these batteries back or just getting new ones.

so I would need a 12-odd amp load for almost a day if the batteries are 100% (yea right!). I understand its not a lab quality procedure, but should be close enough.

At least the procedure will be repeatable.

I did a couple more equalization charges with the WM charger, the batteries are getting closer but still not equal. But it seems promising.

will try and find a load for 12amps or so, and get a baseline test going.
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:49   #14
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

You can get close enough with light bulbs, true as voltage falls, so does current, but you can average it out.
As part of an aircraft's annual inspection I'm required to determine the "reserve capacity" Of the battery, idea being is there enough battery to operate the avionics to get on the ground in the event of an alternator failure.
I have used a light for that, true I can't honestly tell you if the battery has 50% or 55% capacity, but you can tell if needs replacing or not.

But here is sort of the rub, how many Amp Hours do you need? You may can get by with 50% batteries, or you may need >90% batteries.

I believe at least some of the people that have OLD banks have learned to get by with less power as the batteries have lost capacity so slowly and if they actually tested them, they may find their bank meets the definition of "dead"
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:07   #15
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Re: Can my batteries be saved?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You can get close enough with light bulbs, true as voltage falls, so does current, but you can average it out.
As part of an aircraft's annual inspection I'm required to determine the "reserve capacity" Of the battery, idea being is there enough battery to operate the avionics to get on the ground in the event of an alternator failure.
I have used a light for that, true I can't honestly tell you if the battery has 50% or 55% capacity, but you can tell if needs replacing or not.

But here is sort of the rub, how many Amp Hours do you need? You may can get by with 50% batteries, or you may need >90% batteries.

I believe at least some of the people that have OLD banks have learned to get by with less power as the batteries have lost capacity so slowly and if they actually tested them, they may find their bank meets the definition of "dead"
Yes, exactly. That's why statements like, "I got 10 years out of my batteries" mean practically nothing. It's best to ignore them, for exactly the reason you mentioned: when batteries reach a stage of replacement varies widely from user to user. Some fanatics like me feel that 80% capacity (i.e., 20% reduction from new) is time for replacement. Others get by on much less, depending on their setup, their cruising practices (or not), and other factors.

Hey, we live every day with batteries which deteriorate right from the day they are manufactured and continue right on for years until they "quit". At, maybe, only 10-20% of their original capacity. These are CAR BATTERIES. It takes very few AH to start an engine. The normal small to medium size diesel on a boat only consumes less than 1 AH to start.

Add that to the fact that most boaters don't have a clue as to the true health of their batteries, and you can see why one needs to be very wary of statements about battery longevity on a boat.

Bill
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