Just curious if anyone has used anything to repair or extend the life of their deep cycle batteries?
I’m looking at Charge-It Concentrated Battery Additive, and Wizbang Battery Desulfator… is there something better that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? I emailed the whizbang people and I’m waiting on a response, I mainly wanted to know if I could use one unit on 4-125 amp hour, 12v, deep cycle batteries wired in parallel at the same time, their site says one unit will handle up to 1000 amp hour storage, I don’t know if that means ONE battery or multiple ones… I also wanted to know if I could use it at the same time as I was using the batteries (with my inverter).
I have been very hard on my deep cycle batteries, the ones I have are not that old, just a couple of years old, but are not holding a charge very well, I’m bad about not equalizing them because my inverter will not work while the batteries are being equalized and I live off of my batteries, I refuse to equalize them while I’m not home, I don’t want to risk overheating or boiling out my batteries.
According to Steven Harris there is nothing that can be done for batteries that have hardened sulfated crystals. Sulfation is part of the charge/discharge cycle happens during discharge, but if not recharged soon enough the sulfation becomes permanent.
He states this on one of these two podcast about battery backup banks. He says anything sold for this purpose is a scam. The key is to keep your batteries top off with a 3 stage charge controller.
I use a Xantrex C35 charge controller, according to their manual, they use a 3 stage charge:
During this stage, the batteries are charged at the bulk voltage setting and maximum current output of the DC source. When the battery voltage reaches the bulk voltage setting, the controller activates the next stage (absorption).
During this stage, the voltage of the battery is held at the bulk voltage setting until an internal timer has accumulated one hour. Current gradually declines as the battery capacity is reached.
During this stage, the voltage of the battery is held at the float voltage setting. Full current can be provided to the loads connected to the battery during the float stage from the PV array. When battery voltage drops below the float setting for a cumulative period of one hour, a new bulk cycle will be triggered.
I am guilty of not equalizing my batteries, only because my inverter doesn’t run during the equalization process… I wonder how it can be explained that there are so many people posting positive reviews on these 2 products? People who say they have all but dead batteries and brought them back to live… I’m sure that some of them could be shills, but I can’t believe ALL of them are, if these didn’t work, there would be LOTS of negative reviews to go with the positive reviews…
My batteries are being used on a daily basis, almost 24-7, I live from them, they aren’t sitting idle.
I’ll listen to the podcasts, thanks for posting them Caverdude. :)
No problem, I have listened to those 3 times already… thought they were very good. Also there are two prior to those on generators.
First off, let me ask you what type of battery are you using? Are these true deep cycle batteries or the “deep cycle marine” type batteries? If they are the marine types then it is likely that the batteries are just at the end of their lives and nothing can be done to restore them.
I have spoken with the folks at my local golf cart shop and the tech support people at Trojan and they both tell me that the electronic battery life extenders do not work. Also the chemical rejuvenaters can’t restore a damaged plate. They can help remove sulfide crystals, but if the plates are covered with lead sulphide then the plates are pretty well shot.
The best advice I can give someone (like myself) who lives total solar for power is to get good quality deep cycle batteries and not to draw then down below 50% DOD. I have 8 Trojan T-105’s arranged in two sets of 4 to give me 24v @ 500ah.
If you did want to do an equalization charge you could isolate 2 of the batteries from the inverter to run the house and equalize the other two. Then swap for the other two the next day.
Here is a piece of advice for bargain prices on batteries. Go to your local golf cart shop and ask about used batteries. Golf cart batteries are true deep cycle batteries and many rich folks will change out their batteries every couple of years just so they never have any trouble with them. My local shop sells the used batteries for $20 each. Just take a volt meter and a battery hydrometer to test then and make sure you get some good ones. As long as the specific gravity of the electrolyte is 1.26 or better you will get plenty of life out of it.
Thanks for your reply, to answer you, I do have marine/RV type batteries, they are Interstate SRM-29, I live in the middle of a desert with a low population, there aren’t many golf courses around, but I do get into the nearby town from time to time, it’s 3 hours a way from me, I’ll check to see if they have a golf cart store or golf course, that sounds like a good deal.
I emailed the Whizbang company to ask them some questions, here is what I wrote and what they answered
Hi, I’ve been looking at your desulfator for a while and wanted to know a few things. I live off grid, use solar panels, a charge controller and an inverter, I have no other source of power. I’ve been pretty hard on my batteries, they are 12 volt deep cycle 125 amp hour batteries, I have 4 of them, they are only a few years old but don’t hold much of a charge anymore, I need to desulfate them, they aren’t dead, just in poor shape. These are hooked up in parallel, 12 volt.
My first question is can I hook up all 4 batteries to one desulfator?
My second question is, can I still use the batteries (with the inverter) while this is going on or do I need to disconnect from the system while desulfating them? I know that when I am equalizing the batteries (using the charge controller), the inverter shuts off because of the higher voltage going into the batteries, that’s why I don’t equalize them as often as I should, I am using the batteries to live on, I will not equalize the batteries when I’m gone (and theoretically not needing to use them) because of the danger of overheating the batteries and boiling out the electrolyte, so it’s kind of a catch 22 situation.
I can separate the batteries and do one at a time, but if it would take weeks to desulfate a battery, it would certainly take quite a long time to do all 4 batteries, assuming I could hook this desulfator up to multiple batteries, I could even do 2 at a time, then switch them around… I’d prefer hooking up all 4 batteries.
I read on your website that one desulfator could handle up to 1000 amp hour battery, does it matter if it’s one battery or multiple batteries as long as it doesn’t go over the 1000 amp hour rating?
I thank you for your time on these questions. :)
Yes, you are correct, one desulfator will work up to about 1000 amp hours of battery storage. So for your application 4×120 amp hour 12 volters, you would only need one desulfator installed mid pack directly to the battery terminals.Yes, clearly understand the whole equalize catch 22 issues. You can install the desulfator (1) and operate the rest of your charge and discharge devices as you would normally. Our product will not have any effect on these external devices, only the battery plates. All batteries have some internal resistance, this resistance is the path of least resistance for the pulse made from our product. ALL of this inductive energy will travel to the batteries and not the other devices.Yes, leave all 4 batteries connected as you have them now. The desulfator will automatically adjust based on the needs of your bank. You should see the capacity slowly start to increase after the second week, and continue as more time passes. Most results will occur, in your application, within the first 6 weeks. Further “cleaning” will continue, just at a slower pace. In general if your batteries are in the 3-5 year old range it is very common to see about 90% of new capacity returned after 4-6 weeks of use. If your batteries are in the 5-7 year old range you might only see 40% of new capacity returned.Regarding the “about” 1000 amp hour rating, it does depend on how the batteries are connected. The larger the wire connecting them the better the results. IF… you are only using 22 AWG or smaller wire to connect the batteries with alligator clip leads, then it is not going to work very well. The pulses are inductive, inductive pulses are quickly lost with smaller wire gauges, poor connections, and long distances. So if your batteries are install a mile apart from one another them you would need one desulfator per battery.I hope this information has helped.Best Regards,Eric
Thanks for your answers Eric, it helped a lot. My battery bank is not one battery one mile apart (LOL), they are nice and close, one next to the other, the wires connecting them are nice and big, the size of decent battery jumper cables.
I assume that if I have batteries, numbered 1-4, connected in parallel, it would be best to hook up the desulfator to the positive terminal on battery #1 and the negative terminal of battery #4? Or will that not make any difference and hook it up to battery #2 or #3?
You can try it but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Before spending the money I would suggest you spend an evening reading all the information found on the Trojan web site. http://www.trojanbattery.com this is a great place to learn about batteries. You can also call the Trojan tech support people and they will answer any question you have about batteries. 800-423-6569 ext. 3045
What I believe you will discover is that the batteries you currently use are not really deep cycle batteries, but rather a cross between an auto battery and a true deep cycle battery. An auto battery has more plates than a deep cycle battery but they are thinner. This allows the battery to produce very high current output to drive starter motors but for a short time. Deep cycle batteries have fewer plates, but they are thicker. This means they can’t produce as high of a current output but can do it for extended periods of time. The marine batteries are a cross between the two. They have more plates than a true deep cycle battery and they are thicker but not as thick as a true deep cycle. They are used to start a boats engine so they need to have a high current output, but also are used to power the boat when the engine is off so they need to have longevity. As a result they will last far longer than an auto battery but due to the thinner plates will degrade much faster than a true deep cycle. For off grid use here is a good rule of thumb, if the battery talks about CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) it’s not for you. That tells you that the battery is designed to start an engine so it’s main design isn’t longevity. A true deep cycle battery will give you it’s Ah (Amp Hour) rating two different ways. 5 hour rate and 20 hour rate. A battery produces it’s current by a chemical process and is determined by the speed of the process. For example, my Trojan T-105-RE’s have a 170Ah rating at 5 hours, and a 225Ah rating at 20 hours. They top out at the 100 hour rate at 250Ah. That means if I draw the batteries down completely in 5 hours I will get 170A x 6v = 1020 watts, but if I discharge it for 100 hours to draw it down to nothing I will get 250A x 6v = 1500 watts.
Since my batteries are 6v, but my panels (and the rest of the system) are 24v, I string 4 batteries in series to make a 24v string. I do that to two sets of batteries (8 total batteries) and connect the two strings in parallel to get one battery bank totaling 24v @ 500Ah (at the 100 hour rate). By doing this I seldom draw the batteries down below 20% DOD (Depth of Discharge) that way the plates endure very little degradation from the acid. I estimate my batteries should last in the ten year range.
The biggest factor in a batteries life (assuming proper maintenance) is DOD. The deeper you draw the batteries down the more the acid eats the lead plates. So in the end more batteries in your system save you money in the long run as you do them less harm from lower discharge rates. And the true deep cycle batteries are a must for total solar users like us.
Anyway, I’m rambling again. But do yourself a favor and read what the Trojan site has to offer (and it’s a lot) then talk to their tech support folks before spending any money on something that I doubt will help.
I don’t think there is a problem with draining your batteries all the way down except that deep cycles greatly reduce the life of the battery, but this has nothing to do with hard sulfation where a battery is left for a month at partial charge. Lets say you draw the batteries down 100% on each cycle Then your battery might cycle like this 100 times (as an example). If you only draw down 50% then it cycles (500) times. If you only draw down 25% then it can cycle (2500 times)… 10%(10,000) times get the picture? Those are not real numbers by the way, just an example.
the thinner plates also allow for warpage, believe me that sux
a battery that goes dead for no apparent reason
been there done that
Zathris, you said “I have spoken with the folks at my local golf cart shop and the tech support people at Trojan and they both tell me that the electronic battery life extenders do not work.”, I would expect to hear that very statement from someone who earns their living from selling batteries, not saying that it’s incorrect, just saying they would have financial motive for making that statement…
It would be no different from asking a professional carpet cleaning company if the cans of carpet cleaner or the carpet cleaners you rent from the store work, I suspect you would get a similar statement from them about how these don’t work…
I will be checking on the golf cart stores when I go into town, I’m also looking at new golf cart batteries, I appreciate your input :)
Beast, you are correct. As the battery discharges the plates expand and warp. The heaver the plates the less warpage and the shallower the DOD the less warpage. That is a major cause of “Dead Cells”. Some manufactures make a point of saying that their separators are designed to help prevent plate contact.
As far as drawing your batteries down to zero, I highly recommend that you DO NOT do this as it will in all likely hood damage the battery to the point it will never fully recover. Anything below 80% DOD is highly discouraged by ALL battery manufacturers. 50% DOD is the standard for their life cycle ratings. 15% – 25% is great, but believe it or not less than 10% can actually reduce battery life. That’s why I sized my battery bank to cycle around 20% DOD to get the longest life possible.
Oh Wretha, another thought about the equalization charge, the reason for that is because a battery that sits in one place tends to stratify. In other words the electrolyte has a different specific gravity at different heights in the cell. The equalization charge raises the charge voltage to cause the battery to off gas more than usual to stir up the acid and get the specific gravity more uniform. Since you have four batteries you could take two and put them in your car next time you head into town to “shake up” the electrolyte. A bit crude I realize, but it would serve the same purpose. After all, car batteries and golf cart batteries never need equalization charges.
Zathris, if you saw where I live, you would understand why I will not carry my batteries down to my vehicle unless it’s an emergency situation ;) Bringing them up the first time is a feat.
I live on a mountain side, I have to hike down to my vehicles, it’s not a terrible hike, but a hike none-the-less, carrying a heavy battery or two would pretty much be out of the question, come to think of it, just getting the batteries down the stairs of the sky castle would shake them up plenty, and me as well. :)
If stratification is the main reason (only reason?) for equalizing batteries, I can shake them right where they sit with not much trouble.
If your battery boils a little everyday during the charge period, you never need to equalize. When they set unused for a long period of time (Back-Up Power) and the charge just floats, then you need to make them boil to mix them up..
I set my bulk charge (12 volt system – C-40 Controller) to 14.2 volts. This voltage makes them boil for an hour then the float charge drops to 13.6 volts. I must be doing something right, being I got 8 yrs. out of a set of golf cart batteries, and they were still working when I replace them. I NEVER equalized once.. (I did a load test and they were getting weak)
I do use a desulfation unit. Installed it long ago. I know of Fire Departments that use this exact unit on their batteries and it sure helps. Cuts their replacement in half..
As for additives.. Snake Oil.. Just my opinion..
Good point 12vman, I have never done an equalization charge either. In fact I can’t. What I did was to run my six 240 watt panels as pairs running in parallel. I get 32v @ about 15 amps per pair on a bright sunny day. Each pair is controlled by a 20 amp (dirt cheap) charge controller (eBay). The three of them run in parallel to the buss bar. They are pre-set to run a three stage charge cycle with absorption voltage of 28.8v and then float at 26.7v My batteries boil near the end of the charge cycle and seem to maintain the batteries well. There is no equalization option but in the past seven months I have not seen any change in the specific gravity during my monthly maintenance checks so stratification is something I am not worried about.
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