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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #11  
Old 04-05-2011
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Well, there we have it folks ... no need to equalize your lead-acid batteries. They'll be fine.

Seeing as not 'bursting open in the winter' isn't the only standard by which to judge a battery and 'lasting 7 years' only says to me that lead sulfate hasn't yet happened to break off and short plates together ... if you want your batteries to last, at or near rated capacity, then you need to be performing equalizing charges. You might be surprised how low the actual capacity of a battery can fall before it happens to finally die. Especially in a land application, where the battery is subjected to little or no physical shock, you can find heavy degrees of sulfation in an otherwise 'fine' battery. Give that battery one good physical (or chemical) shock that a brand new, fully charged battery could endure and positive plates shed excessively and short the battery.
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Old 04-05-2011
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Originally Posted by scraph View Post
Well, there we have it folks ... no need to equalize your lead-acid batteries. They'll be fine.

Seeing as not 'bursting open in the winter' isn't the only standard by which to judge a battery and 'lasting 7 years' only says to me that lead sulfate hasn't yet happened to break off and short plates together ... if you want your batteries to last, at or near rated capacity, then you need to be performing equalizing charges. You might be surprised how low the actual capacity of a battery can fall before it happens to finally die. Especially in a land application, where the battery is subjected to little or no physical shock, you can find heavy degrees of sulfation in an otherwise 'fine' battery. Give that battery one good physical (or chemical) shock that a brand new, fully charged battery could endure and positive plates shed excessively and short the battery.
Scraph,

You seem to like to put words in my mouth I never said.

If you want to post dire death stories of batteries left in the cold and tell folks that by leaving them in the cold they are treating the badly that is fine. After 20 years of cold stored batteries I simply disagree with that sentiment. As a matter of fact my extra batteries that are at home are stored in my un-heated shed in the winter rather than my heated garage, by choice. In the summer I move them into the garage where it is cooler. In the North, lived in Alaksa too, we often leave batteries in the cold all the time. As long as they are charged they survive just fine.

I NEVER said batteries should not be equalized, EVER. I said those batteries have no provision for equalizing them and yet they have survived 7 very cold winters. They have also done this with less than good care. I am sure they are suffering from sulfation but they are still kicking along for that application and still run the 1000W inverter and well pump just fine.

They still support large loads from the 1000W inverter and hold voltage well while doing it but but the CCA has dropped off, when compared to new, as it can at 7 years.

Would I like to see a charger with equalization in Jay's installation, yes but it's his money not mine and a 7 year life on a bank he paid $248.00 for he's more than happy with. Trying to get him to buy a charger that costs more than he paid for the bank is likely not going to happen..

My own batteries are stored on the boat every winter. This was last springs measurements against a brand new battery. The batteries were four years old at the time. Can you tell which one was the brand new battery and which one four years old?

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 04-05-2011 at 02:28 PM.
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The solar panels if covered by snow were likely the cause of the discharge. If no backfeed diodes were used, (not all solar panels have them preinstalled). The batteries can drain back through the dark solar panels, and once they are dead the electrolyte can freeze. In northern climes the daylight hours are already short. My experience in cold winters is to fully charge batteries, and then completely disconnect, and periodically top them off.
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I'll ad my bit to this,
I've had GE Elec Trak electric tractors for 8 years, just got rid of them, I've abused 6 volt batteries bad, I've forgot and left a load on them for a week, 0 volts in the winter, hooked a charger up to them while being froze solid, I've boiled them for days at 30 amps, kept water going into them, and they can survive it, not saying all of them will, Looking at just SG I at the end I could run the tractor about 5 minute but the SG was good when I started.

Batteries can and will do wierd things, you could have had a interal short in one of them, but ether way it got froze,
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It is really irrelevant to my point what value the battery tester at Autozone gives you for MCA. MCA is calculated by determination of conductance of the battery and correlating that with measured temperature to arrive at some CA value ... whether it be CA, CCA, or MCA.

In either of the above batteries, the required capacity of the battery to perform the MCA test is less than 10Ah. 1000amps * 30seconds = 8.3Ah. However, the battery tester doesn't even perform an actual MCA test to determine MCA value.

The fact that the internal resistance of your battery still looks new has very little to do with battery capacity. The test shown makes no measure of capacity (which is the point in question; sulfation, equalization, etc) and is, therefore, misleading. I've seen batteries measure 'Good' with such profoundly low capacity as to make them unusable.

Cold storage of batteries is obviously better for them than 'hot' storage ... but extreme cold storage is 'too much of a good thing'. There is more to a battery than electrolyte and more of concern than that electrolyte freezing. The rest of the battery is undergoing thermal stresses as well. 32F is good ... 0F not so much. There is a reason for the name MCA (Marine Cranking Amps) ... it is because the test standard is at 32F ... a good value for the lowest temperature marine batteries should expect to see. Once you take the boat out of the water and put it on the hard, temperature is no longer regulated to such an ideal battery storage temperature. Storing batteries 'on water' versus 'on the hard' is, once again, comparing apples to oranges.
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Last edited by scraph; 04-05-2011 at 05:13 PM.
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