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Old 08-09-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
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"shocking" the batteries ?

another technical question from this all thumbs guy for you very helpful, handy folks ..........
While boondocking last winter in the SW we encountered many other boondockers who employed solar to meet their energy needs. Batteries are obviously an important part of that system. Although we don't have solar many recommended we nonetheless periodically "shock" our batteries as routine maintenance . I think that was the term used ? In any event, as I understood it, the procedure involved periodically using some device to recharge the batteries w/ more than normal charge. Reportedly this "rattled the plates" & removed deposits that formed on them thereby extending their life & improving battery efficiency
Does anyone know what I'm talking about ???
We have a Honda 2000 gen. but recall that wouldn't work to accomplish this procedure. Bought a pr of Interstate type (size?) 27 batteries in Jan & hope to keep 'em for awhile
Thanx
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
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I think they're referring to desulfation. Some battery chargers come with a mode of operation that periodically sends pulses of high frquency voltage to the batteries.
Go here to see the video and read the info.Camping/RV Battery Chargers | Battery Chargers by BatteryMINDers.com

Hope this helps,
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:24 PM   #3
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Yes it's not a bad thing to charge batteries really hard for an hour or so. Most modern converter/chargers have a heavy charge mode and then drop back to a float cycle the reduced rate is as important as the hard charge rate most of the older chargers would overcharge batteries and boil the water out.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:35 PM   #4
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i hope you bought "deep cycle" batteries and not standard automotive units? Standrd automotive batteries will not stand up to constant deep discharge cycles. They are designed to operate in a minimum 90% charged state.

some people suggest discharging deep cycle batteries as low as possible/practical before recharging. idea is to have the longest discharge cycle possible. not sure if the batteries develope a "memory" or not. each to their own.

one thing for sure a low rate of charge, 10amp or less is best for any battery. keeps the electrolyte cooler, lowering the amount of gassing thereby extending battery life.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:41 PM   #5
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Less heat also keeps from damaging the plates. Heat will make them warp. The rattling of the plates will drop the removed scale to the bottom of the battery case and could short the plates. It is risky if a large piece of scale lays across two plates to short them.

Best is to use deepcycle batteries to their lowest charge and then slowly recharge to full charge. The batteries will get a "memory" due to the condition of the plates. Proper charge and discharge will keep plates for best use and longest life. JMO as usual.

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Old 08-19-2011, 07:01 PM   #6
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Hi Guys,

H'mm, OK where did you find that to obtain the longest life on a deep cycle wet cell battery is to discharge it as low as possible before a recharge? Can you point to some sources that state that and why? Or did I miss read what you stated?

From all my research I come up with discharge to 50% state of charge (SOC) and then recharge for the longest battery life. That and use desulfation techniques to keep the formation of sulfate in check.

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Old 08-19-2011, 07:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GKLarson View Post

Although we don't have solar many recommended we nonetheless periodically "shock" our batteries as routine maintenance . I think that was the term used ? In any event, as I understood it, the procedure involved periodically using some device to recharge the batteries w/ more than normal charge. Reportedly this "rattled the plates" & removed deposits that formed on them thereby extending their life & improving battery efficiency
Does anyone know what I'm talking about ???
Hi GK

I have not heard this called "schocked" before but what you are describing is called a method of desulfation. There are a few ways to do this, Teach pointed you to the newer pulse method of desulfation which I use. The prior method and still widely used is to boost the charging voltage to 14.4 volts for a brief time period to mix up the electrolyte.

My Progressive Dynamics converter uses this method. See here
Charge Wizard

I use the Battery Minder Plus on the battery bank when the camper is parked at home. This keeps them pulse desulfated and in float charge all the time to get the batteries to 100% state of charge and maintain. When we are out camping the PD converter uses the 14.4 volt cylce every 21 hours once you reach float mode to keep them in check.

I can say this, while I check the battery electrolyte often, in one entire year of always being plugged in except while towing and boondocking I have not had to add water during the year. I do top them off every spring as they do consume some but not much. The newer technology knows how to back off the charge and go in a true float mode. The older converters can cook a battery to death if they do not have a float mode and are left on for extended periods of time.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 08-20-2011, 06:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Guys,

H'mm, OK where did you find that to obtain the longest life on a deep cycle wet cell battery is to discharge it as low as possible before a recharge?
In the 10 yrs. I spent as an auto mechanic, I encountered many of these "urban myths" especially concerning batteries. (Y'all remermber the one about setting a battery on a concrete floor will cause it to discharge?)
This one is based on the idea that if you dump out all the old, used electicity and refill with new, fresh electicity, the battery will be the better for it. There are a mess of these old myths still floating around out there. I would not be at all surprised if Jim told us a mechanic or auto parts counter man told him that. After all, it does sort of seem logical to completly dump and refill.

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Old 08-20-2011, 02:52 PM   #9
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I use to werk on electric forklifts. those trucks had "fuel gages" and we were told to run the trucks till the batteries were almost empty, in the red, to get the best life from the battery. Now where the gages registered as to real capacities I don't know but most batteries have a lifespan designed in that is based on a number of cycles based on certain percentages of use. If batteries are not used as designed they will suffer with less lifespan. Use less than the designed cycle and plate use suffers. Same with over use.

I had never heard about dumping acid and putting fresh in. It was never mentioned that I remember. All we were told was to add clean water, not tap water, because of chemicals that might be in the water getting attracted to the plates.

The myth about setting batteries on the floor might have been because of the uneven heat buildup during charging. The floor might act as a heatsink that would cool the bottom of the battery more than the top during the heat buildup while charging and make plate reactions uneven. That uneven plate coating might have made the plates warp more than they should and therefore break plates, or something. Just a guess there. I've always kept batteries in acid proof containers no matter where I set them.

Again, JMO

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Old 08-20-2011, 06:09 PM   #10
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Back when I worked for "Ma Bell" (the old AT&T) we would give the battery plant a "boost charge" twice a year, the same thing JohnB refers to as desulfation. Some people would call it "shocking" the batteries. Normally these 48 volt strings would "float" at 2.2 volts per cell and the boost woud kick it up to 2.5 volts per cell. We had many strings that were 20 years old.

I have to admit that these battery strings were a little different than a car or RV battery. Some cells stood 48 inches tall and could discharge at 500 amps sustained over 8 hours or more. (yes, 5 hundred amps)

I guess there are a few terms around that refer to the same process.
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:39 PM   #11
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Hi Jim

Here is some reading on this topic. I'm not an expert at this so if we happen to have a camper friend who works in the battery industry hopefully they will add some more good info and correct anything I may have miss stated.

The fork lift battery, that one I'm not as familiar with so I had to look it up. The lift fuel gage is reading something the question is what does the gage calibrate out to? Don't know. So I did some digging and here is what I found. Granted this is only one battery.

From Deka fork lift batteries. Here is a cut sheet on a lift truck battery. This one is a lead acid battery.
http://www.dekabatteries.com/assets/base/0608.pdf

Source: Industrial Motive Power Batteries - Lift Truck Batteries and Battery Chargers

It lists to recharge when the specific gravity of the battery reaches 1.175 to 1.155. Then I had to convert specfic gravity to state of charge (SOC)

I found this chart.
Trojan Battery Company

Unless I have this mixed up,
1.175 is slightly over 50% SOC

1.155 is over 40% SOC

So if I interrupted this right Deka was stating to recharge between ~ say 42 to 50% SOC.

Now to the deep cycle lead acid batteries, I have found this many times on the 50% rule being the best method for that type of battery.

Here is the simplistic explanation I have seen.
SmartGauge Electronics - Lead acid batteries and the 50% rule

This one talks about the 50% discharge too.
How Lead Acid Batteries Work

This one shows the number of recharge cycles available for lead acid in relation to how far you drain the battery.
Lead-based Batteries Information

Here US battery shows the number of recharge cycles goes down as the depth of discharge increases. So the lower you go below 50% SOC the less number of recharge cycle you have.
http://www.usbattery.com/usb_images/cycle_life.xls.pdf

Source Welcome to U.S. Battery

This one talks about the lead acid not having a memory. Now NiCad batteries do have the memory issue
How to Charge - When to Charge Table – Battery University

And from Trojan they talk about no memory in the lead acid battery and no need to deep discharge. See line 3
Trojan Battery Company

And here Trojan talks about discharging only to 50% SOC as recommended. See line 2. And they talk about using the battery between 50% SOC and 85% SOC , see line 5
Trojan Battery Company

If you see this chart and the one from Trojan, once you start going a lot below 50% SOC the battery voltage drops too. If the voltage get's too far down some camper things do not like to work right. The furnace can stop heating with low voltage as the motor is not running fast enough to keep the sail switch engaged and the gas valve shuts off, yet the fan runs blowing cold air. This happens in the lower SOC areas. THe fan has to run at 75% of speed to keep the sail switch engaged.
LEAD ACID BATTERY CHARGING INFORMATION, BATTERY TYPES AND OPERATION - SOLAR NAVIGATOR WORLD ELECTRIC NAVIGATION CHALLENGE, NELSON KRUSCHANDL, BLUEBIRD ELECTRIC LAND SPEED RECORD CARS

Here is some more reading. Car and Deep Cycle Battery FAQ 2011, Battery Manufacturers and Brand Names List, and Battery References and Information Links List

Granted some of this is open web based however the manufactures sites are fairly trustworthy.

To sum this up for the deep cycle lead acid type of batteries most of us use in our campers, I have come to understand this; If you go real deep in discharge it takes a lot of recharge amps to get it back up again. The batteries heavily sulfate when deeply discharged. That means more heat from the more amps to get a 25% SOC battery back up to 100%. 50% seems to be the compromise target. You can use enough of the battery capacity to have good use, sulfation is moderate and do not end up overheating the battery as much during recharge. This is claimed to have a longer life span on the battery then draining down to 25% and back up each time.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:03 PM   #12
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JohnB, I guess I didn't say a complete statement that might have confused. I didn't mean to discharge batteries until the cells were completely dead but until their lowest level of "useful charge". that would be about the fifty percent range. Lower charge on the battery would not be enough to run 12V equipment, I think. The low level of the battery gage showing and then do a recharge.

I don't know what the battery gages in TTs will read but I'd ventrue to say that when the indicator says the battery is low it is at or close to the fifty percent range. The gage readings being low is what I was talking about, not a dead battery.

If checking the level of charge of the battery and it is not at the lowest level and putting it on the charger anyway is not getting the use of a full cycle and I do not do that. For instance recharging when the battery is at the 3/4 charged level is not good for the battery, JMO

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Old 08-21-2011, 08:31 AM   #13
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Hi Jim,

Well, glad we have that sorted out.... LOL

The conversation started out with Cleon and Jim talking about battery use discharging the battery down as far as practical.

Jim said:
Quote:
Jim said:
Best is to use deepcycle batteries to their lowest charge and then slowly recharge to full charge. The batteries will get a "memory" due to the condition of the plates. Proper charge and discharge will keep plates for best use and longest life. JMO as usual.
Then John asked to clarify and said:
Quote:
John said:

H'mm, OK where did you find that to obtain the longest life on a deep cycle wet cell battery is to discharge it as low as possible before a recharge?

From all my research I come up with discharge to 50% state of charge (SOC) and then recharge for the longest battery life. That and use desulfation techniques to keep the formation of sulfate in check.
Then Jim stated:
Quote:
I use to werk on electric forklifts. those trucks had "fuel gages" and we were told to run the trucks till the batteries were almost empty, in the red, to get the best life from the battery. Now where the gages registered as to real capacities I don't know but most batteries have a lifespan designed in that is based on a number of cycles based on certain percentages of use. If batteries are not used as designed they will suffer with less lifespan. Use less than the designed cycle and plate use suffers. Same with over use.
Then John read into this as run the trucks until almost empty and there never was a comment back about when I stated only discharge down to 50% SOC. So that brought me to a thought that Jim was thinking take the battery as low as it can go. And then the memory comment that does not apply to lead acid wet cells.

Then John went into "detail mode" LOL.... gave the backup from how I came upon the 50% SOC rule and that lead acid wet cells do not have the memory problems like Ni'cad batteries do. .

Then Jim clarified:
Quote:
JohnB, I guess I didn't say a complete statement that might have confused. I didn't mean to discharge batteries until the cells were completely dead but until their lowest level of "useful charge". that would be about the fifty percent range. Lower charge on the battery would not be enough to run 12V equipment, I think. The low level of the battery gage showing and then do a recharge.
Well it seems we where talking the same target to not go below 50% SOC as recharges below that on a long term basis can have a negative affect... LOL

This is where yaking around a campfire clears things up quick!

There is always something that is learned from SOC posts, I found that Trojan battery chart that has SOC and electrolyte specific gravity side by side that I need to print and put in the camper. This year while boondocking I was measuring the discharge and recharge current at the battery and wish I would of had my hydrometer that was home sitting in the shed to compare the differences. Seems since I have converted to LED's and all the other power miser options I do not use a whole lot of power.

And now we have a good post with good conversations about battery maintenance and recharge levels.

All, though... I still do not know the science or lack of on the battery on the concrete deal. Never really heard a definitive reason of why?? I do put stored batteries on a block of wood but this is more from not wanting to etch the concrete with any acid, keep the battery warmer in the winter and to help keep the battery cleaner from attacking dirt. Dirt on top of the battery between the posts can some times lead to a drain between the 2 posts as the dirt and the acid create a conductive path. I however always have a battery minder on it so it does not bother me so much. SIL's boat battery is still in the shed on the minder from 2 years ago....

And the deal about dumping the acid and putting new in... yes from long time ago I heard of that but also learned from my Uncle that does not work. Now I know after RV battery research odds are high the battery was heavily sulfated in the first place which is why the battery was not preforming well. Giving it an acid transfusion will all about kill it. The fact that the plates went dry in the process I'm sure was the last nail in the coffin. Actually desulfating the battery would of done a whole lot more good.

Creating energy in the wet cell battery is a chemical reaction and starts from the day the acid is added to a new dry battery. Years ago as a teen I use to help fill batteries at my step Dad's Esso station when repair shops where independent. Now a days these maintenance free batteries come filled and sealed. New batteries years ago where stored dry until you needed them, then filled them and fully charged the battery. Since I'm not in the modren day garage bussines any more do not know how they handle this. I'm assuming they still fill the ones that are fill-able.

Thanks

John
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Old 08-21-2011, 02:42 PM   #14
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Whew! LOL!

It is really hard to read into posts online whether a person is smiling, or not. Short posts can often be misunderstood. Even sitting around the campfire we might be confused since I'm from the South and you for sure aren't, LOL! My accent alone would send you searching Google in what I didn't say.

I do think most campers will read the idiot lights before checking the battery acid strength unless they are at home and have everything convenient to perform the task. Therefore, my "reasonble" idea of low is what the gages tell me and not what some hydrometer says or when the camper wall lights quit werking.

It has been so long since I physically measured acid levels in a battery I forgot you could, LOL! Eveything I have has idiot lights for me. I'm soooo lucky. Looking at those pretty colored lights is so much easier than squinting to read a float needle. It is like the fuel gage in the car. I can see when it says "empty" but does it really mean empty? How far can I go till I really can't go anymore and the tank is really empty? Even when the bell starts to dinging must I stop or do damage to the car or can I sneak another 20 miles out of her? Is there a design factor for that? Do all makes and models use the same factor if there is one? Should I drive my car until the tank is empty or does it hurt anything to fill it when the gage reads 3/4 full? There are so many questions and so little time. LOL!

Life is short.

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