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Tip #11 - Make Your own Batteries
First a note on 18650 Lithium Batteries
Although I've not yet created a solitary Lithium Ion bombattery bank, the plans are underway to create the first hybrid!
It is December 12, 2018 and about 50 batteries have been gleaned from the laptop battery packs that reside here (there are hundreds still yet to be opened).
It was thought that a lithium ion battery would be built and tested. It was thought that this would not be a great undertaking since a great many of those types of batteries are at my disposal here.
Apparently, I have more learning to do. This should require specialized equipment and sensors, those that I have are probably not the best avenue to success.
As the battery packs that once belonged to working laptops were cracked open, and the units dismantled and unwired, the realization quickly came that every battery being pulled was not the same.
Not only were some of the battery packs yeilding much higher voltages (a variance in voltages per each battery of course was expected), but the quality of the various contents were surprisingly different, also.
I began to learn that Lipos can, and do, explode upon overcharge and under deep discharge rates.
I also learned that the American (?) Li-ion batteries, although safer with the PTC (positive temperature coefficient) and another protection that Lipos do not contain, but can still explode.
Since I'm a bit retarded it's necessary for me to consider my steps more than the rest of the population (so god sent me the Sony STG 6JA17W which is a US18650GR Battery).
This particular battery stuck out from the rest.
Not only was this type of battery found to be at a much higher voltage than all the rest, but also the battery seemed heavier and of better quality.
About the worst quality battery I found was in an HP extended battery pack which apparently had not only exploded, but also was found to have only a foil wrap (as opposed to what I'm presuming is a steel jacket over the sony battery).
Upon soldering three of the batteries in series without any prior charging (since at present the Morningstar corp has not responded to my query as to their charger's capability with these types of non-conventional batteries), they only measured a little over 11 volts, which is not acceptable.
What concerns me most is the apparent choice between a shotgun shell explosion, or a swelling and venting potential fire.
The thought of flying shrapnel have me in a slow-down state right now.
Okay enough about potential ruinous short-sighted profit in lithium batteries.
A few days ago I received a text message that a gentleman had a battery bank consisting of relatively new batteries that simply were not holding a charge for the mere 200w load that was generally applied to the battery.
It is said that batteries have some sort of chemical "memory", and I've seen this within my own tests also.
As much as this advice might be painful, this appears to be the tentative answer to solve the problem of batteries not holding a charge:
Disconnect for a while.
I realize that not everyone has multiple battery banks to redirect to, but if you do, this procedure works.
By disconnecting your load entirely from the battery bank that is not performing as expected, allows the battery to be thoroughly charged and self-equalized (without having to go into the equalize mode of your charger, if using MPPT). If you DO choose to put the charger into "equalize" mode, DO consider huge amounts of ventilation. I'm in a 3-car garage and upon once having gone that route, the gasses were enough to bother me exceedingly. When you apply the equalize mode to an mppt charger, it's going to basically boil the batteries, so they will also get hot. Personally, I can't imagine being that desperate for the sake of a battery and would prefer to not go this route.
At the time that this text message arrived from the man with the ailing battery bank, is winter. The sun in Ohio where he and I reside, is nil (one day out of 10 might have a hint of sun).
Even a load as tiny as 200w can incrementally pull a battery down (and seemingly depreciate the battery over time).
If the battery only receives a hint of solar input, even if it reaches the proper float stage, is miniscule compared to the cummulative drain of the loads that the battery supplies energy to.
By periodically, as needed, disconnecting the load for an adquate number of days (or maybe weeks if you're in Ohio ";-)) will ensure that the battery does not die permanently prematurely.
At the time of this writ, I glanced to my right where there is a solitary 185ah battery charging in just this same specified manner. The battery only handles a few lights and other light loads but had to be isolated for a battery rejuvination.
I'll know when the procedure is complete when the battery can maintain a voltage in the 13.00+ range by morning.
If the battery doesn't maintain that voltage gleened from the daytime sun, then it will sit in the corner and be punished for a few more days until it sees my way.
During these times of "time-out", the usual specific gravity test and water level maintenance ought to be tended to.
Whereas this old 185ah battery tests great for specific gravity when using a hydrometer in each of the cells, and although the voltage tests great without a load (during the daytime hours), does not ensure that the battery is ready for production.
The procedure is painless when other battery banks can be piggy-backed with the load that was originally relying on the ailing battery. If you don't have other battery banks to piggy-back over to, then it's time to go camping and rough it. Break out the candles or battery-operated lights, use fully-charged laptops instead of the desktop computers. Whatever you have to do to preserve the health of your battery, is paramount; unless you have money to burn replacing batteries before the 5-7 years lifespan (using the general history of my replacement schedule as the guage for that statement).
To put it another way, imagine you are catching rainwater in a barrel, but it only rains once in a blue-moon and takes a week to fill up the barrel (or whatever time-frame). Now imagine you have a small 200w hole at the bottom of the barrel that drips, drop-by-drop, allowing water to escape the barrel 24/7.
By eliminating the 200w drip load allows the barrel to not present a "surface charge" false-positive.
You'll know your barrel is full when the water is rolling over the sides of the barrel, now add your drip load back to the barrel and go back to living your life.
But, this advice doesn't always work.
IF THE ABOVE-PROCEDURE FAILS TO REMEDY THE BATTERY SITUATION, do the following:
Remember to have some of this stuff handy. This common substance can neutralize an acid spill relatively quickly.
Steps for the ALTERNATE PROCEDURE
1.) Remove the batteries batteries that are not holding a charge from the battery bank.
2.) Safely dump the solution into a catch-basin. Never simply dump the solution in your yard, especially near your well. There's a famous hillbilly that killed his entire family by accident that way!
3.) With the solution completely removed from the battery, flush each cell thoroughly with a garden hose, but BEWARE, a full-body suit and face shield are recommended.
The stuff can do more than just hurt you and your clothes and surrounding area. Think of your chickens and pets and be a good steward by being considerate to the environment and those around you.
4.) Next obtain a de-sulfation solution and pour into each of the cells and allow to sit over-night (8 hours or so).
5.) Then, after the solution has remained within the battery for a time, cap off the cells and shake the battery as violently as you are able to (they're heavy so call your nephew over for this one).
When you pour out the solution you might be surprised to find that the contents are dirtier than the initial removal stage of the original acid.
If there's still obvious sediment, don't be afraid of flushing more with a garden hose. If you see rust-colored gunk when pouring out the original acid, you might be surprise to find a more disgusting gunk falling out of the battery following a de-sulfation.
6.) And finally, with the de-sulfation solution removed, add new sulfuric acid to the cells and put that battery back into service within the bank; or better yet, isolate the repaired batteries to a new purpose, and consider an even lighter load to ensure that this procedure need not be repeated for the remainder of the life of the battery.
Don't forget to dump the acid only in approved locations. Inquire of the battery-makers as to their dump site, or find an approved location from the Codes Department in your neighborhood.
p.s. There's a really old set of videos on YouTube where I perform the procedure mentioned above.
The videos were created about a decade ago, and I'd add the links here but am ashamed of the videos.
Back then I didn't know how to edit-out the stupid parts (long pauses within the videos of my absence while retrieving another battery or another box of acid, working without proper gear, stating something non-intelligible, etc.). Nevertheless, if you find the videos, "like, thumbs-up, and subscribe". LOL (I don't even know the password to the YouTube account so save your thumbs).
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