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Old 02-05-2014, 02:25 AM   #1
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Default New life for old lead-acid batteries

Boat's batteries about due for replacement? This idea might save you some cash by extending their life significantly.

Replacing the sulphuric acid with a sulphate salt such as potash alum or aluminium sulphate solution will regenerate any battery that doesn't have shorted cells, even if it appears to not hold charge. So long as it can be charged that battery is a candidate for conversion.

I got this idea from John Bedini, who has been self-publishing books on electronics for as long as I can remember. He took the battery from his wife's Mustang after Ford replaced it and converted it to this salt solution, and the results were quite remarkable.

Claimed benefits:
  • The battery fluid is non corrosive
  • The battery gas is not explosive
  • The battery can be discharged more deeply
  • The battery can be charged much faster
  • The battery will last longer
  • There is no corrosion of the terminals
  • It is extremely cheap
  • More power in cold weather
  • Environmentally friendly
  • 1.75 times the storage capacity as a Lead Acid Battery
  • No memory effect for charging and discharging

Here's a link to the first in a series of videos he made about it:



The stuff to use is aluminium potassium sulphate - used to add the crunchiness to pickles - but in countries where this is banned as a food additive (Australia and New Zealand for instance) you can use aluminium sulphate hydrate Al2(SO4)3.14H2O


Aluminium sulphate hydrate is available at Bunnings as Hy-Clor Swimming Pool Flocculent and costs AUD9.62 for a 2kg bag in Australia or around NZD15.60 in New Zealand. You'll also need a few litres of demineralized water and some baking soda, all easy stuff to find and cheap.


Here's a link to John's website for more information.


Bedini Alkaline Alum Battery


The only downside for the use of such batteries on a yacht is that they tend to settle at a lower voltage before hitting the plateau, so some inverters may not work well with them. In this respect they act a bit like a NiCad battery. However, for such uses as running a fridge, lighting or an electric drive motor they will be fine.

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Old 02-23-2014, 07:33 PM   #2
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I thought you can't do much if the plates are all eaten through and that's sort of what happens in general. Other than that, if using wind or solar to charge a battery might end up with sulfation (see link) and I don't know much about it.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:08 PM   #3
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The battery has to be in chargeable condition for this to work. Plates being eaten away definitely wouldn't be repairable. In a yacht batteries get fairly heavily discharged and regular lead-acid aren't generally advisable due to fragility, which is why AGMs are more popular for house batteries. The above would make lead-acid batteries more robust, with the added advantage that there's no acid to spill.

Sulfation is accelerated by fast charging, like a car alternator. It can be reversed using an electronic desulfator that pulses the plates. Since solar panels and wind generators are more like a trickle charger this problem is less of an issue in a yacht unless the engine is used constantly.
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:18 PM   #4
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Additional info on Sulfation--it's really a problem of insufficient charging so can be a real problem if wind/solar are not fully charging up the battery. It is also a big problem with cars that have power hungry accessories and tiny alternators. Or--in our case, we have a car that we very seldom drive and when we do drive it, it is for only a few minutes-that poor battery has the insufficient charge because of us not driving it long enough for the alternator to charge the battery full up.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:23 PM   #5
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Installing a "boom box" in a car without upgrading the wiring and alternator is also a great way to cause it. Batteries are finicky, fragile, expensive and annoying things in general. It's about time someone invented a compact, reliable, low maintenance and efficient energy source at a reasonable price point.

I try to keep my discharge levels to C100 rating (100 hours to full discharge) and if the batteries have been down a couple of days I curtail almost all electrical loads until the sun has had a chance to catch up. I do miss the internet, but better than having to find new batteries at short notice and a reasonable price.

For your seldom-used car, a 10W solar panel that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket is a neat solution to keeping the battery charged. In most cases they match the discharge of clocks and the battery's own self-discharge rate well enough that a regulator isn't needed.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:06 AM   #6
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We have a solar panel just like that--it doesn't work. If kept in the car, it doesn't get enough light, if outside of the car (besides risk of theft), it is soon covered in enough dust/dirt that it doesn't get enough light.

Bottom line: not everywhere in the world has blazing sunshine all the time. Some places it would NEVER work out to use solar as a primary energy source.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:35 AM   #7
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I've seen them sitting on the dash of cars. Not enough charge - apart from the car being oriented in the wrong direction to catch it - implies that the panel's too small for the amount of light available.

BTW I don't have one in my VW van yet. When I went to NZ for two months my old battery dropped all the way down to 4V. Took it aboard and used the 2x80W panels to recharge it. It's fine being left for a fortnight without use, but any longer and the voltage just drops like a rock.

You'r right about the dust and dirt, I have to clean the panels on my yacht regularly to keep them working efficiently.
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:34 PM   #8
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We have two cars and typically one of them is sitting somewhere far, far away from us for months on end. One time, our car was sitting 1 year that way. We do one of two things with the car battery when gone for more than 1 month: 1st we just disconnect the battery but leave in the car. That will last at least 3 months on our batteries (have done this several times so know it.) but if we think we'll be gone more than 2 months we often take the battery with us as an "extra" aboard the boat--just in case our start battery aboard dies We have an extra battery box to put it in so it's not a problem.

About the Sulfation--it CAN be a serious problem on the boat batteries if all you've got is solar and the batteries aren't getting sufficient charge to keep up with onboard electrical use.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
We have two cars and typically one of them is sitting somewhere far, far away from us for months on end. One time, our car was sitting 1 year that way. We do one of two things with the car battery when gone for more than 1 month: 1st we just disconnect the battery but leave in the car. That will last at least 3 months on our batteries (have done this several times so know it.) but if we think we'll be gone more than 2 months we often take the battery with us as an "extra" aboard the boat--just in case our start battery aboard dies We have an extra battery box to put it in so it's not a problem.
I'm in the same boat with the van I bought in NZ. It's unlikely I'll be there more than annually, so I expect the battery to be dead as the proverbial dodo when I get back there. Next time I visit it will go inside the house, attached to the solar panels before I leave.

One great thing about NZ is that you can "suspend" car registration for up to 12 months, so I don't have to pay any fees while I'm away. Nice.

Quote:
About the Sulfation--it CAN be a serious problem on the boat batteries if all you've got is solar and the batteries aren't getting sufficient charge to keep up with onboard electrical use.
No need to convince me of that, I totally agree.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:16 AM   #10
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Brenda,

Here's a solution to long-term storage of your car. Capacitor boost packs:

12V BoostPack Starts Freezing Cold Engine – Capacitors Replacing Car Batteries | Laser Hacker Alternative Energy
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:37 PM   #11
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But my own solution actually works quite nicely--we have a spare battery box onboard so we bring the battery aboard the boat and it functions as a spare battery for the boat. No cost
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Old 03-09-2014, 12:54 AM   #12
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Yup. Added bonus is that the car is harder to steal.
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Old 07-03-2014, 10:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haiqu View Post
The battery has to be in chargeable condition for this to work. Plates being eaten away definitely wouldn't be repairable. In a yacht batteries get fairly heavily discharged and regular lead-acid aren't generally advisable due to fragility, which is why AGMs are more popular for house batteries. The above would make lead-acid batteries more robust, with the added advantage that there's no acid to spill.

Sulfation is accelerated by fast charging, like a car alternator. It can be reversed using an electronic desulfator that pulses the plates. Since solar panels and wind generators are more like a trickle charger this problem is less of an issue in a yacht unless the engine is used constantly.
It sounds very impressive.. I do want to make my batter system robust so I will try this way and hope it works..
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Old 07-03-2014, 04:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
We have a solar panel just like that--it doesn't work. If kept in the car, it doesn't get enough light, if outside of the car (besides risk of theft), it is soon covered in enough dust/dirt that it doesn't get enough light.
Just bought a 10W solar panel off eBay. It has a cigarette lighter connector and a pair of clip leads. Fits on the dash of the van right between the heater vents. I'll let you know how effective it is after I get back from NZ in January.
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