Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

24

Comments

  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    Timinator wrote: »
    But, after talking with the manufacturer regarding my symptoms, they assured me I WAS suffering from sulfated batteries and that their desulfator would restore them.

    That's the problem. People who sell de-sulphators push them very aggressively. Often they're sold to people who wouldn't need them even if they worked. Sometimes batteries do get better, and people attribute it to de-sulphators, while this could be totally unrelated to desulphators. Other people may think that the batteries got better, while in fact there's no difference. Therefore, it is impossible to draw any conclusons.

    That's the same as with power factor correcting devices. They're marketed very aggressively. Some people swear by them. In this case, you can tell they cannot work because there's no scientific base behind them. In case of desulphators, this is most likely the same, but it's hard to tell because their explanation of the principles of their work may have some merit.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    Actually both whole-house PF correcting capacitors and battery desulphators have that kernel of scientific truth at their heart. Trouble is, they do not work in the real world because the real world is not that simple.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    actually there is, as coot said, some truths to these things. the pf correcting caps do work, but we don't get charged for the bad power factors unless you are a business. the scientific reasoning behind this does exist as it brings a load that is out of phase back closer to in phase by means of frequency resonance.

    as to desulfators i never had much confidence in them after some experimentation with my own batteries and the use of variable rf frequencies at variable power levels. the best way to approach sulfation is to prevent it in the first place. many of those desulfators turn out to be just a higher frequencied float charger and any float charge would maintain any full battery thus preventing sulfation. i had many arguments in the past on this subject and i don't care to revisit those same arguments with those that are suckered into these misleading devices.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    niel wrote: »
    actually there is, as coot said, some truths to these things. the pf correcting caps do work, but we don't get charged for the bad power factors unless you are a business. the scientific reasoning behind this does exist as it brings a load that is out of phase back closer to in phase by means of frequency resonance.

    as to desulfators i never had much confidence in them after some experimentation with my own batteries and the use of variable rf frequencies at variable power levels. the best way to approach sulfation is to prevent it in the first place. many of those desulfators turn out to be just a higher frequencied float charger and any float charge would maintain any full battery thus preventing sulfation. i had many arguments in the past on this subject and i don't care to revisit those same arguments with those that are suckered into these misleading devices.

    Agree totally, except at least some of these "magic" devices are powered from the battery itself, so it's using battery power to run the "de-sulfater, which in turn charges the battery. Dog chasing it's tail and gradually over time running down the battery if it's not kept charged from some other source.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,612 admin
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ... so it's using battery power to run the "de-sulfater, which in turn DIS-charges the battery. Dog chasing it's tail ...
    ??? :confused:

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    BB. wrote: »
    ??? :confused:

    -Bill

    Makes perfect sense to me. The battery is being discharged to power the desulfator which is in turn returning a small amount of that energy back to the battery.
    So the battery gets "healthier" but still ends up less fully charged.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    And because I've had a fun-filled day I'll add this:

    Desulphators ay work on batteries charged from AC powered chargers better than they do with batteries charged from solar. Why? Because a solar charge controller will have a varying frequency whereas the AC based charger has a fixed frequency (not likely more than 120 Hz). As such applying a higher frequency to the battery charged from AC may actually be beneficial.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    Most people own a battery desulfator and don't even know it. That's because they're more commonly called a "battery charger".
    --
    Chris
  • KnowledgeSpongeKnowledgeSponge Solar Expert Posts: 173 ✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    On the contrary. Timinator's experience tells the story of desulphators very well: they are promoted as a cure-all for bad batteries, and yet there is no evidence they actually work.



    This is true. However you seem to be ignoring the facts in favour of some faint hope that somewhere there is a scientist who will prostitute himself to say they are real. Since there is no scientific evidence to date that they do work, there's no reason to continue in the belief that there one day will be.



    Don't put your faith in chemistry professors or other academic either. They can explain exactly the process of sulphation and what will affect it, but there is no way they can say any of these devices do or don't work as they do not test them.

    Besides which there is an old and unerring axom: "'twixt theory and fact a lot doth lack". ;)

    You're better off believing in Santa Claus; at least he was real once. :roll:

    Cariboot,
    This seems to be too emotional of an issue for you to approach logically.
    You are going on emotions. Not fact.
    We should try to rely on facts, not hearse or guess work.
    This is the first time I've seen a post from you (in my short time here) in which I felt you were neither knowledgeable nor logical.

    What proof do you have that there "is not scientific evidence" that they do not work?
    Are you saying you have researched ALL scientific evidence on this subject matter?

    As for Santa Claus, I know for a FACT he IS real. I see him every year at the mall :D
  • KnowledgeSpongeKnowledgeSponge Solar Expert Posts: 173 ✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    Timinator wrote: »
    I'm not here to "prove" to you it didn't work. But, after talking with the manufacturer regarding my symptoms, they assured me I WAS suffering from sulfated batteries and that their desulfator would restore them. I take very good care of my batteries and have had several golf carts over the last 15 years. I can say, there is no lead-acid battery I know of that performs anywhere near Trojan T105's for golf carts. I'll leave the desulfator on the cart even after I buy the new T-105's and if, 10 years from now I'm still using the same set of T-105's, I'll let you know.

    FWIW, I think a PWM charger does more to restore a damaged battery than deslufators.

    Did they offer you (and give you) a FULL refund after it did not revive the battery?
    Please also remember, I'm NEUTRAL in this.

    ...[not looking to blame or assign positions to anyone. -Bill B.]

    I am as intrigued at the concept of reviving sulfated batteries as anyone else. But I DO NOT CARE either way.

    If they do not work, I want to know that. Likewise if they do, I want to know that.

    ...[we are all here to discuss an learn. Desulfators seem to bring out strong opinions on both sides. I accept there are others that have different experiences/opinions/knowledge than I. Nobody should take this stuff personal. We are all here to learn. -Bill B.]

    Maybe the company you contacted just wanted to sell you something.
    Your statement that they "assured" you that it would work sounds bogus.
    It is not that easy to determine a batteries exact state without a very careful examination by an expert.
    So I think you were sold a bill of goods by an unscroupulous sales person.

    That STILL does not prove or disprove the effectiveness of de-sulfators ;)
  • KnowledgeSpongeKnowledgeSponge Solar Expert Posts: 173 ✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Most people own a battery desulfator and don't even know it. That's because they're more commonly called a "battery charger".
    --
    Chris

    From what I'veread Chris, this is somewhat true ;)
    Besides, to a small degree, SOME lead sulfate will probably ALWAYS be created on the plates during discharge.

    So naturally, and chemically, ANY working batery charger is going to "reverse" that minute sulfation to "some" degree.
  • KnowledgeSpongeKnowledgeSponge Solar Expert Posts: 173 ✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    ..[no, we are fine with other views. Just other people have other views too. -Bill B.]...

    I'm done with this discussion and will not post in it again nor visit it again.

    For the record...I just had that battery that was leveling at 12.22 come back up to 12.82 level charge after a few days on my de-sulfator.

    So, I guess I'm just extraordinarily lucky.

    YMMV

    PS: I have approved one post with some "Light" editing to keep the discussion on topic. And I have taken out two posts from two different people that were getting a little to much into a direct conversation about intentions (still on system, just "moderated").

    Want to keep threads friendly and interesting. Desulfators can be difficult to discuss on this forum because there are some strongly held opinions on the subject. Since batteries are highly complex chemical factories themselves with a multitude of failure modes in an opaque container--It is difficult to provide supporting "proof" on some of the opinions.

    I don't want to stop the discussions--Just keep them more focused on the issues (i.e., discuss the posts, not the poster).

    -Bill
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    From what I'veread Chris, this is somewhat true ;)
    Besides, to a small degree, SOME lead sulfate will probably ALWAYS be created on the plates during discharge.

    So naturally, and chemically, ANY working batery charger is going to "reverse" that minute sulfation to "some" degree.

    Actually, it's how a battery works. The chemical reaction in the cells during discharge involves the sulfate in solution in the electrolyte to collect on the plates, and consequently the SG of the electrolyte drops. The battery charger reverses that process and forces the sulfate that collects on the plates back into the solution in the electrolyte, causing SG to rise.

    A fully discharged battery has basically just water left in the cells because all the "good stuff" in the electrolyte has collected on the plates.

    Batteries that are chronically undercharged will never have all the sulfate on the plates go back into solution. With time the sulfate hardens into crystal like structures that will never go back into solution and the sulfate blocks active material so capacity is lost. This is the classic "sulfated battery" and it's junk.

    There is only one battery desulfator that works every time and that's the battery charger. There is no substitute for using that battery charger correctly.
    --
    Chris
  • TiminatorTiminator Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    Did they offer you (and give you) a FULL refund after it did not revive the battery?
    Please also remember, I'm NEUTRAL in this.

    For some reason, folks are wanting to pin me as the "De-Sulfator" guy all of a sudden. As if they need a whipping boy.

    I am as intrigued at the concept of reviving sulfated batteries as anyone else. But I DO NOT CARE either way.

    ...[-Bill B.]...

    That STILL does not prove or disprove the effectiveness of de-sulfators ;)

    I'd never buy another one. And, if they did work as well as they're advertised to, I'd think by now, there would be enough people out there raving about them, but there just isn't. Not on the golf cart sites or renewable energy sites, nobody I can find who's used one has said they have recovered from a sulfated battery and there are LOTS of sulfated batteries out there, lots. I see your point regarding the need for real data but again, after years of these being on the market there just isn't any. You'd think by now there would be more than just their word and superlative advertisements.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    KnowledgeSponge's posts were moderated for discussion due to their nature, not deleted. We do not delete posts lightly around here. After discussion among the moderators they may be restored or not. That is how we do things around here. It is in the rules.

    Offered proof the things don't work he insists on finding proof they do. That's his business and he's welcome to pursue it and report back. As also has been explained obtaining such proof is nearly impossible due to the nature of testing that would need to be done.

    His calling my qualifications into question is insulting. If those remarks had been aimed at any other forum member he would now be suspended.

    All forum members are free to draw their own conclusions from the relevant posts as always.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Actually, it's how a battery works. The chemical reaction in the cells during discharge involves the sulfate in solution in the electrolyte to collect on the plates, and consequently the SG of the electrolyte drops. The battery charger reverses that process and forces the sulfate that collects on the plates back into the solution in the electrolyte, causing SG to rise.

    A fully discharged battery has basically just water left in the cells because all the "good stuff" in the electrolyte has collected on the plates.

    Batteries that are chronically undercharged will never have all the sulfate on the plates go back into solution. With time the sulfate hardens into crystal like structures that will never go back into solution and the sulfate blocks active material so capacity is lost. This is the classic "sulfated battery" and it's junk.

    There is only one battery desulfator that works every time and that's the battery charger. There is no substitute for using that battery charger correctly.
    --
    Chris

    A very masterly summation, Chris.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    From what I'veread Chris, this is somewhat true ;)
    Besides, to a small degree, SOME lead sulfate will probably ALWAYS be created on the plates during discharge.

    So naturally, and chemically, ANY working batery charger is going to "reverse" that minute sulfation to "some" degree.

    Actually, during discharge, lead sulfate is always produced. The sulfur in the sulfuric acid combines with the lead, which shows up as lower SG levels. Now IF the battery is soon recharged, the lead sulfate will still be "soft" and easily changed back to lead and the released sulfur rejoins the acid, thus raising the SG.
    The problem with sulfate occurs when the battery is left in a low state of charge and the lead sulfate begins to harden until it gets so hard it can no longer be reversed. This coating of the battery plates with hardened lead sulfate which will no longer dissolve through the charging process, is what ruins the battery in a process commonly referred to as sulfation.
    The theory behind so-called de-sulfators is that some magical and special high frequency voltage pulses somehow rattle the hardened sulfate crystals off the plates, thus uncovering active material and restoring some useful life to the battery. In reality, once the lead sulfate crystals have so hardened, they become next to impossible to remove, shake off, or dissolve.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    With time the sulfate hardens into crystal like structures that will never go back into solution and the sulfate blocks active material so capacity is lost. This is the classic "sulfated battery" and it's junk.
    There is only one battery desulfator that works every time and that's the battery charger. There is no substitute for using that battery charger correctly. {AMEN!}
    Which are actually lead sulphate crystals. :-)

    The battery charger works every time as a preventative measure, since the sulphate that forms during normal discharge can still be dissolved. But most people only use desulfator when talking about the hard form of lead sulphate, and even the charger can't do anything with that. <sigh>
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    In reality, once the lead sulfate crystals have so hardened, they become next to impossible to remove, shake off, or dissolve.

    The so-called "corrective equalizaion" with a battery charger can sometimes make the hardened lead sulfate come off the plates and fall into the sump. It will never go back into solution. This gets some capacity back. But you may as well start the funeral arrangements for the battery because the SG will be low from that point forward and it's well on the way to early death.

    If enough of the plates and sulfate falls off and fills the sump up with "gunk" it will short the plates out and you can play coroner and pronounce the battery dead.
    --
    Chris
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ... they become next to impossible to remove, shake off, or dissolve.

    As I understand it, they can still be brought back into solution by a high enough voltage. But that high a voltage will first break down (hydrolyze) the water into oxygen and hydrogen, so that there is no way of applying that voltage while the normal electrolyte is still in the battery.
    So not a practical solution.
    One theory also advanced about how desulfators work (harder to understand than the vibration thing, and so less useful to hucksters and snake oil salesmen) is that they are able to apply a high voltage pulse so briefly that it has an electrical effect on the hardened sulphate, but does not let the hydrogen and oxygen atoms from the water get far enough apart that they do not recombine immediately. Much more sophisticated explanation, but also without rigorous theory or experimental evidence. :-(
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    If enough of the plates and sulfate falls off and fills the sump up with "gunk" it will short the plates out and you can play coroner and pronounce the battery dead.


    Glad to see that you got it right Chris (...plates and sulfate...) since the sulphate is non-conductive and so will not be able to short out the plates by itself. But there is a lot of other stuff down there that can be lifted up to the plates by the sulphate. Gunk is a good technical term.

    Some of the die-hard (non-TM) battery resurrectors suggest you can still make a good smaller battery out of the original large one by adding more acid to bring the SG back up, but I fail to see the point. What good is a larger, heavier, smaller battery!
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    inetdog wrote: »
    Some of the die-hard (non-TM) battery resurrectors suggest you can still make a good smaller battery out of the original large one by adding more acid to bring the SG back up, but I fail to see the point. What good is a larger, heavier, smaller battery!

    Because it is free?

    Anyone ever tried to open up a battery, clean plates, remove gunk from the bottom, sort of battery re-buid?
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    Because it is free?

    Some free things are just too expensive to use. :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    Because it is free?

    Anyone ever tried to open up a battery, clean plates, remove gunk from the bottom, sort of battery re-buid?

    Not for about forty years now. ;)
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    Not for about forty years now. ;)

    Yep. My dad used to do it but they never opened the battery up, according to him. He told me how to do it and I tried it with a dead marine battery I had. It didn't work. It was still just as dead after I did all the shaking and washing it out and refilling it with new acid as it was before I started :cry:

    --
    Chris
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    Not for about forty years now. ;)
    I thought that people only did that with NiFe cells? :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation
    inetdog wrote: »
    I thought that people only did that with NiFe cells? :-)

    Ah, but you're too young to know the joy of "tar tops". :D
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,612 admin
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    In the Working FAQ Thread, there are a few different links to some detailed battery chemistry/physical information (both government and private.

    Working Thread for Solar Beginner Post/FAQ

    But, for this point, here is some information about:
    BB. wrote: »
    Eric/Westbranch posted a link to a 1922 battery repair manual. A very interesting read and look back almost 90 years at technology and mass production (near the end are some factory photographs).

    Antique battery info (1922) (thread)

    And here is the direct link to the table of contents:

    THE AUTOMOBILE STORAGE BATTERY ITS CARE AND REPAIR

    Despite the title, also includes information on storage batteries too (Farm Lighting Batteries).

    -Bill

    The last link has a 47 page section on rebuilding batteries (as Marc/Cariboocoot said, the old ones could be pulled apart and repaired).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    wayne,
    good point about the battery powering many of them, but one assumes that nobody would be dumb enough to run it chasing its tail. hmmm, i could be very wrong about that being they would be using a desulfator.

    now as to the higher frequency braking the sulfate up, it just doesn't happen unless it was somewhat soft to begin with. if it was soft to begin with it would've been brought back up with a good charging and possibly an eq charge. i tried using medium frequencies and high frequencies and finally tried vhf and uhf frequencies. didn't work. i also tried higher power levels even up to 100w of rf. nada. if anything was going to break loose it certainly would've been with the higher power levels and even the trickle of lower power levels, being the batteries were part of a radio setup to begin with, says that doesn't work either. if there was any benefit at all it was so minute that it isn't worth it. if it had a benefit i could not see it. this is why the small amount of prevention by properly charging and maintaining your batteries is far better than a roomful of the snake oil cure of a desulfator because you abused your batteries. incidentally, the charge controllers of today do pulse when they charge in the absorb and float stages.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,612 admin
    Re: Battery Maintenance - De Sulfation

    Just to make an updated post:
    Want to keep threads friendly and interesting. Desulfators can be difficult to discuss on this forum because there are some strongly held opinions on the subject. Since batteries are highly complex chemical factories themselves with a multitude of failure modes in an opaque container--It is difficult to provide supporting "proof" on some of the opinions.

    I don't want to stop the discussions--Just keep them more focused on the issues (i.e., discuss the posts, not the poster).

    -Bill

    I hope that if KnowledgeSponge gets some information from the Chemistry Professor, or some other data points on sulfation/desulfators, I will be interested to read the posts.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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