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Old 27-12-2006, 16:01   #1
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Lead-acid battery equalization

Has anyone done the equalization of their lead acid batteries. I have the Xantrex XAR regulator which has an equalization program. I set mine to 15.8V and various times like 2.8h or 2.1h. I am a bit puzzled with the output. According to Nigel Calder you should keep the current down to < 5% of the AH rating so 5 amps for each 100AH. This way you don't cook the batteries. During equalization, voltage never gets to 15.8, its more like 15.4 but only after I increase the RPMs to 1000, and then the current is more like 45amps, too much for my bank. The battery seems a bit hot, its bubling, but the battery temp sensing switch never shuts off the regulator. So i can only assume that the batteries are not 125F yet. Anyway, specific gravity in my two oldest batteries is not moving beyond 1.230. At idle RPMs the voltage is 15.2 and current 25A. Should I force the voltage to beyond 15.2 and even beyond 15.4 by increasing the RPMS to 1500 and then have higher amps flowing in. The risk is overheating but would that make the specific gravity get higher to where it should be like 1.265? All my batteries are torjans SCS225 and the two older ones have uniform 1.230 reading across. The two newer ones have 1.250 reading, and bubble less. I equalize them all at the same time.
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Petar
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Old 27-12-2006, 17:57   #2
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I spent the summer working on getting all the cells in my batteries up to par. In the end a two hour equalization is not long enough. What I would suggest trying first is try a 4-6 hour equalization at the 15.4V. So after the unit resets itself after a 2 hr cycle start another cycle. Do not depend on the unit to shut itself off to prevent an overtemp scenario. I would pick up an infrared thermometer so you can accurately monitor temp. My batteries took several 4-6 hr equalizations over 2 months to get the cells all to 1.26 or so.
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Old 28-12-2006, 06:12   #3
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Over time the lead sulphate ,PbSO4, will break off of the plates of the discharged battery falling to the bottom. This is what often shorts out the plates of the battery ending it's life. The other problem with it is that it can no longer be turned back into Sulpheric acid, H2SO4, once it has broken off which is why the older batteries won't reach as high of a specific gravity. One of the biggest causes of the lead sulphate active material breaking off of the plates is by applying too high of a current to a discharged battery and by too much bubbling/gassing during the equalization period. Hence the need for low current while raising the voltage above 15V. You want some bubbling going on, but not too much. I would recommend keeping the current down low and just realizing that your older batteries are going to drag down your good batteries while charging and discharging.
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Old 28-12-2006, 10:15   #4
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Proper equalization

First in this discussion please refer to the article in Electrical: Batteries etc. posted on 05/01/05 regarding "How Fast You Can Relaibly Charge Batteries" in order to separate fact from "rumor" and so-called "rules of thumb".

Once a battery has been charged using a proper regimen (which requires reaching at least a minimum acceptance voltage for a suffucient time) AND allowed to rest for 24 hours on a proper float voltage THEN one can equalize the battery. So far the discussion in this thread has not indicated just how proper equalization is performed.

Equalization refers to the method of bringing a set of series cells into convergence with respect to cell-to-cell specific gravity. Because cell voltage is directly related to specific gravity one could also refer to equalizing the cell-to-cell voltages.

Flooded-cell lead-acid batteries may never have had their fluids "matched" from the beginning and, therfore, the cell-to-cell voltages may never become equal. For example, if one cell was low in fluid and you later fill it up to a reference mark with water then that cell will not have the same specific gravity when "full" as the other cells if they were full in the beginning.

An equalization cycle begins with applying a constant current equall to 2 to 7% of the Amp-hour rating number until the voltage reaches 2.7 to 2.8 Volts per cell. Should any cell begin to gas excessivly then the process is terminated which is why equalization is not an "automatic" process...it must be observed manually. Different battery construction dictates whether or not to use a 2% rating current or a 7% or something in between. The process may take up to 16 hours or more, sometimes less. Obviously this process does not lend itself to the use of solar or engine power and is most often relegated to the shop where a constant current source may be available (do you have such a supply, I doubt it!).

One reason that those of you who have read my contributions regarding battery charging "know" me to be such a proponent of attempting to follow "Amp-hour law" charging is that when using such a regimen, on a cycle-by-cycle charge/discharge basis, the necessity for having to apply a true equalization cycle becomes minimal over time, if at all.

By using elevated acceptance voltages with the use of so-called three-step chargers that can be varied a reasonable approximation to the Amp-hour-law charging regimen can be obtained. In this case acceptance voltages around 14.7 V will be applied (at temperatures near 70 deg. F).

It is not the applied voltage that one needs to be concerned about, it is the applied current that EXCEEDS the number of Amp-hours "missing" applied for an excessive time (so as to excessively gas or cause an excessive temperature rise) that is important. Understanding the limits of the Amp-hour-law explains just how important it is to have a "real" battery monitor capable of telling you how many Amp-hours have been removed or added to your battery (with an underlying measurement of true energy:AmpsXVoltsXtime).
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Old 28-12-2006, 12:41   #5
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I equalized my house bank last month (4 Deka Golf Cart) with the Xantrex 40 Amp AC charger.
First I let them sit for a day, then used the equalization program on the charger while monitoring fluid level and battery temp.
The temp never got too high, but after the 6 hour cycle I read on the Battery Monitor that 63 more amps have been pumped into the bank during the equalization process.

Is this about normal, or any indication of anything at all?

(Hey Rick, don't tear into me for being ignorant, I am just a regular guy, not an electro-pro like yourself )
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Old 28-12-2006, 20:30   #6
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True equalization

Yo CSY Man,
I cannot overemphasize that NO existing charger offers a true equalization protocol. Read again the process and compare with your charger specs and you will observe that what is called "compliance voltage" is no where near 17 Volts or more which is required to perform a nominal 12Volt lead-acid battery equalization protocol. So, therefore, what you have is a bastardized process that is neither "text book" nor necessarily even "good enough" to be considered a replacement. The Xantrex process, like most so-called "equalization" modes are designed to avoid litigation from inadvertent use where someone creates a dangerous situation that could happen with a proper compliance "end of process" voltage. Such dangers could be spewing out of acid into the surrounds that effectively could require abandonment of the spaces.

Pay attention to your battery monitor (again, let us discuss "Amp-hours" not "Amps" as you might do so that we are speaking in common terms). The number of Amp-hours delivered during the pseudo-equalization process applied by your Xantrex charger IS some indication of something yet it is not what one specifically lingers on when attempting to bring into convergence the various cell-to-cell voltages. One observes the cell-to-cell voltage variance (or specific gravity if you will) after the process is complete and the battery is left standing for 24 hours with no charge source or load. Sometimes as many as three cycles are required to complet the process with proper constant-current sources. Lucky if you arrive at the end with equalized cell voltages with your existing equipment if your battery exhibited a wide variance of cell-to-cell parameters before the attempt.
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Old 28-12-2006, 21:23   #7
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Wow....

Well, Mr. Rick, I was a perfectionist untill I met you.

No, I did not measure each cell and did not compare them against each other during the Equalization.

Being a low life amateur, here is what I got from the process:

Good and steady 12 Volt performance.
A dependable 12 Volt system.

I also had the same before I equalized the house bank, but felt it was time becuase I had these Golf Cart Cells for 14 months or so without doing anything except using them.
The previous pack of the same brand lasted me 5 years, but I never equaliezed them as my previous AC charger did not have that option.

So, here I was, fat, dumb and happy for 5 years in the tropics and still cruised with no problems on a minimum battery budget, but perhaps ignorant of the finer points of maintaing them batteries.
With this new bank I am "trying to be all I can be", like the Army: Installed the Battery Monitor and the AC charger and 2 temp monitors at the same time as the new cells, so as to monitor and maximize performance.

So far things are swell, including my equalization, but I sense somewhere in your post Mr. Rick that I strayed off the good path and screwed my system up because I did not ignore Xantrex's recommedation on equlaization and did not run my cells up to 17 volts....?

Does that make me an ignorant whimp and should I really toss the book away and crank up the voltage to nuclear levels to prove that more is better, damn the torpedoes?

As a last resort, and to get out of Dodge, I may do that if I had the choice, but the only 17 volts on my boat is the Solar Panels, but they don't have the horsepower to bring the battery voltage up to 17 even if the sun came down to earth. (Free flowing they may go up there and beyond, but not when juicing the house bank)

I guess there is many ways to skin a cat, but I prefer to go easy, and not rip the thing apart....
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Old 29-12-2006, 09:06   #8
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Not a chatisment

CSY Man you are not a bad boy! The fact that most lead-acid battery users do not truly equalize their batteries merely means that either they are not in dire need of equalization or that their life is not as long as it might have been otherwise (or performance such as maintaining terminal voltage under load).

Again, I emphasize that when high acceptance voltages are used routinely the need for equalization is minimized and life tends to be maximized as long as excessive (as opposed to vigorous) gassing and temperature rise does not damage the battery.
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Old 29-12-2006, 16:28   #9
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Second day results

I have done another equalizatin period of 2.8H at 15.4V and 30A for a 520AH bank. The specific gravity in the 2 old trojan scs225 batteries has improved from 1.230 to 1.245-1.250. They were definately not hot(125F). I could barely feel any difference with the battery temperature before and during eualization. So I think that one more time should do it. I do this monthly. I have a link10 battery monitor and usually cycle my bank at -20AH to -150AH. So for a 520AH bank thats in the safe zone.
The problem was that Link10 will reset itself thinking that the bank is full if voltage is > 13.2 and current is < 2 or 1 amps however you set it. This happend ones while I was at -100AH because solar pannels were putting just enough juice to counter the refridgiration and produce 13.2V and 1A going into the bank. But thankfully I often monitor the readings and when that happened I knew was at -100AH and then all of a sudden at full charge. So I owed another 100AH to the bank. But I let a week go by and it was not accepting the bulk charge current to fill it, in other words, voltage would climb to 14.7(My absorption voltage) before the current would get the bulk of the AH back into the battery.
But after equlaization it is definately noticeable that more can be stored at bulk charge. So now I am back at where I think the battery is near full capacity.
Thanks for the input and please stop with the stubborn and meaningless discussions and if you are and expert in the subject, give more practical advice that one can benefit from.
Petar
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Old 30-12-2006, 06:39   #10
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Tried to equalize my flooded batteries last year using a Honda EU2000i. and a Zantrax Freedom 2000 charger/inverter. Ran the Honda for eight hours. Can't really say if it worked well. The voltage never went much over 15. One problem with cruising is that the bank is never at rest as, at a minimum, the fridge is always cycling so the voltage varies. Solved the problem this season, went to AGM's.
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Old 30-12-2006, 12:45   #11
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The practical advice:

Phorvati at al: Benefit to your batteries is to achieve a recapture of "missing" capacity. This is done by applying an elevated aceptance voltage for a time suffient to reverse the lead sulphate. From your description you have not yet done that. You are not equalizing your batteries with what you are doing you are merely "catching up" with the lost charging.

Once the battery is full and recovered (you have apparently not read the previous advice) THEN you can equalize the battery.

Good luck on "catching up" without a shore charger or sufficiently long application using a generator. You are not likely to do so with solar power alone unless yo have a huge pv array and good sun for all day.
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Old 30-12-2006, 13:32   #12
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Nanopulser

Rick,
What is your opinion of this unit? Is it BS or viable? Thank you for your considered opinion.
What is Nanopulser?
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Old 30-12-2006, 19:14   #13
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Nanopulser, a skeptic's view

aI have not personally tested a Nanopulser. Over the years I have had occasion to test two different units making similar claims, i.e. that their products produce pulses (either positive or negative or both "riding" on "top" of the battery voltage in order to remove sulphation from a badly sulphated battery. Claims are either that sulphation using such products are prevented from occuring and/or once it has occured that such sulphation will be removed.

To clarify, the battery textbooks make a distinction with lead sulphate: sulphation (reversible) and sulphatation (sulf-ay-TA
Y-shun, which is irreversible and, therefore, permanent). The products that I tested failed to meet claims of removing sulphatation. I have no reason to believe that the Nanopulser will either, especially when compared to the use of a charger which develops a proper charging regimen using an adequate acceptance voltage for a sufficient period of time.

I have noted that none of the pulser-technology manufacturers have been able to compare their product performance with that of a good three-step charging regimen product performance. In addition, regardless that a particular manufacturer (such as Nanopulse) can legally claim that their product has passed an FCC specification for digital devices targeted for consumers it does not mean that the product does not cause nasty interference with radio receivers. I will stick my neck out here and claim that unless the entire pulsing charger and battery, including all cables, are enclosed in an RF cage that the system will not pass CE requirements for radiation. At least properly designed dc switchmode chargers with a 3-step charging regimen have a good chance of passing stringent radiation and line harmonic specs such as the CE one (which must be passed in order to ship such products into most of Europe). The FCC spec "claimed" to be adhered to by Nanopulse is not as stringent as other FCC specs (like for switch-mode power supplies, for example) and is not required by the FCC to be verified by an independent qualified test facility. This is like claiming to meet U/L safety specs without actually having a U/L label on the device (yeah, safety is different than radiation...this is merely an analogy so don't complain).

I re-emphasize that a proper charge regimen has been known for many decades to work in keeping industrial lead-acid batteries at good operating condition and life WITHOUT ever a requirement for such "pulsing" gimmicks with the inherent propensity for generating RFI.
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Old 31-12-2006, 07:32   #14
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Has anybody ever tried the liquid battery equalizer stuff? It seems awful expensive. Does it work? 1 Quart Liquid Battery Additive | Fastenal
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Old 31-12-2006, 08:48   #15
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Most battery additives are pure snake oil actually, overpriced formulations of magnesium, sodium, cadmium, or cobalt sulfates. These additives have not been proved beneficial, and are not generally recommended.
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