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Old 22-07-2010, 21:17   #1
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I'm Afraid to Equalize

I have a new to me boat that has 7 Deca wet cell batteries as a house bank and two more that are joined by a battery isolation switch. The two are apparently dedicated to the inverter. I have a Charles 80 amp charger and a Xantrex 3000 watt inverter/charger.

I'm fairly sure the batteries have not been equalized. I had a local general technician check the specific gravity and he said they where ok. I'm wondering if I need to do an equalize and if so, how I should go about it. I have Nigel Calders electrical book and it doesn't seem to detail the steps. I also have read the previous posts on CF and still - quite frankly - am afraid to push the equalize button on my controller. So is my general technician.

Is someone willing to talk me through this? I will be on my boat in one week and would like to get a better understanding of my batteries and the process to check/equalize them. If so, please either post some advice or pm me.
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Old 22-07-2010, 21:37   #2
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Its a baby sitting job and not something you just push a button and walk away from ...hourly specific gravity reading to verify 100% charge, monitor fluid levels and check for overheating...proper ventalation..ect.

Not something to be afraid of just armed with some knowledge as to what the goal is....I can never remember the 100% charge gravity numbers,,google is your friend,,

Henry Ford never tried keeping information in his head he could readily ask the man to his left or right for....Im allot the same way...some sticks most doesn't..but i know where the men are when i need to find it..
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Old 23-07-2010, 05:57   #3
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In a typical equalization cycle, the “wet” battery voltage is allowed to rise
to approximately 16 volts (16.3V @ 80 deg F, & 15.8V @ 100 deg F), where it is maintained for up to eight hours by adjustment of the charging current. This process helps to mix up the electrolyte, which otherwise tends to stratify, and is also useful in removing some sulfate deposits.
When performed properly, equalization doesn'tmake the battery boil over, but does produce fairly vigorous bubbling.
At the end of this cycle, you can expect to add some water.

See the Xantrex instructions
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/257/DocServe.aspx
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Old 23-07-2010, 06:49   #4
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A lot of electrical equipment is not designed for over 14 volts, so you should make sure that nothing is turned on during the equilization period.
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Old 23-07-2010, 07:50   #5
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Why do you feel the need to equalize if the specific gravities in the cells are similar? Trojan recommends NOT routinely equalizing their batteries unless there is a good reason for doing so.

Trojan Battery Company

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Old 23-07-2010, 08:24   #6
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Thanks Mark. Excellent link.
➥ http :// www . trojanbattery.com/BatteryMaintenance/Equalizing.aspx
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Old 23-07-2010, 08:36   #7
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One should only equalize when a cell or cells will not accept a full charge, checked with a hydrometer. I have rolls batteries and I thought once a year I should equalize ( I spend a lot of the year on the hook). When I talked to the rolls man at the annapolis boat show he told me I was killing my batt by equalizing to often. That was 10 yrs ago and they are still going strong. If your battery tech says all the cells are OK (12.75 specific gravity reading)then I would not equalize.
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Old 23-07-2010, 10:20   #8
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We installed Iota battery chargers for the house bank. The Iota does an automatic equalization mode once a week without any input from me, at over 14 volts, can't remember specifics. Never harmed any electronics. These chargers have maintained our batteries better than any other charger we have used and the batteries are happier than they have been on other chargers. Is this because of the automatic equalization? They just won't tell me. Over the years we have run equalization charges on the batteries as a normal course of maintenance. I have encouraged others to do the same if they are knowledgeable enough. We have never experienced any negative affects from equalization and neither have we received any feedback from anyone else that it has in any way harmed the batteries. To the contrary, we get 7 to 8 years out of our Interstate 6 volt golf cart batteries after some serious use and abuse. I can't understand how proper equalization would "kill" a battery.
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Old 23-07-2010, 11:59   #9
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I wasn't arguing the merits of equalization, I was just posting Trojan's recommendation to not equalize their battteries unless low or wide ranging specific gravities occur. If someone had Trojan batteries, I would encourage them to follow Trojan's recommendations.

I don't see any benefits to equalizing if it isn't needed. I don't know if any harm could be done.

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Old 23-07-2010, 12:55   #10
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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
... I don't see any benefits to equalizing if it isn't needed. I don't know if any harm could be done.
Mark
Over-equalizing for too long could boil off electrolyte.
I think this may be Chuck's point - why try to fix it (& perhaps hurt it), if it isn't broken?
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Old 23-07-2010, 13:13   #11
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If your going to equalize, attention needs to be paid to the process and that includes careful monitoring of the fluid levels, Correct equalization should make a lot of bubbles but not cause the fluid to bubble over or boil. It may be necessary to add fluid during the process. If you are paying attention and monitoring the process you should never over equalize.
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Old 23-07-2010, 21:38   #12
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Thank you for the input. I don't know why I need to equalize except I've read that it should be done periodically. I think the best course of action for me is to personally measure the specific gravity on each battery. My understanding is that I have to measure from each cap of each battery, right? Then, if the specific gravity is below 1.265 I need to equalize.

I'll do this step in one week then post what the results are. Thank you all for your advise.
David.
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Old 24-07-2010, 06:57   #13
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David,

Before equalizing, the batteries have to be fully charged and rested. Letting them rest for a couple hours without current draw is difficult on a boat in use, but you can get by with fully charging them and then put a 10amp load on them for a couple of minutes to bleed off the surface charge.

The SG readings will need to be temperature compensated (some gauges do this automatically).

Besides wanting full SG readings, you also want the readings from each cell and each battery to be the same or very close. If there are differences between cells or batteries, then you should equalize.

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Old 24-07-2010, 10:21   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
Thank you for the input. I don't know why I need to equalize except I've read that it should be done periodically. I think the best course of action for me is to personally measure the specific gravity on each battery. My understanding is that I have to measure from each cap of each battery, right? Then, if the specific gravity is below 1.265 I need to equalize.

I'll do this step in one week then post what the results are. Thank you all for your advise.
David.
Not quit right...Its the variance in cells or the inability to reach a full charge that tells you you should do equalization...any partically discharged healthy battery will give you a lower SG then you mentioned...doesn't mean it needs equalized.

Here read this ...I Have it book marked and refer it it when I cant remember stuff about this topic....One of my men to my right..

Sail-World.com : Knowing your batteries - Final Part 6, Some Procedures
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Old 24-07-2010, 15:13   #15
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The Iota does an automatic equalization mode once a week without any input from me,
------------------------------------



If your going to equalize, attention needs to be paid to the process and that includes careful monitoring of the fluid levels,

I don't get that.
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