battery question

i have a deep cycle marine battery acid filled, i took it out of the house and sat it outside because i was afraid it might emit fumes or something else that could cause cancer or something. i read where agm batteries, ones with glass bottoms are safe to use anywhere, was wondering if they are safer than just a regular deep cycle marine battery to use inside a house. or if a gel battery would be better? are all of these recyclable?

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: battery question

    Lead Acid batteries are very recyclable... I have heard that most of the lead in new batteries comes from recycled batteries. The only access to "Lead" is typically the battery terminals... Just wash your hands well afterwords and you should be fine.

    The "Fumes" from a charging flooded cell battery consist mainly of Hydrogen, Oxygen, and a little sulfuric acid mist.

    The hydrogen and oxygen are explosive--so batteries need to be in well vented areas and you need to make sure that you don't "strike and arc" near the battery vents or you can get a nice explosion or fire. Working on the battery in a well vented area (or with a small fan blowing across the battery and/or a damp towel on top of the cells will help reduce the chances of an explosion).

    The sulfuric acid fumes are probably not enough to cause you any long term harm (unless you really got a lung full of acid fumes). Usually, the bigger issue is that there is enough fumes from charging/equalization that any metal within a few feet of the battery can get corroded if not kept clean and painted.

    "Sealed" batteries like AGM, Gelled, and VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries do run "much cleaner" and will keep the area much cleaner and free of gases...

    HOWEVER, if the batteries are over charged (failed controller, accidentally equalized with flooded cell voltages/currents)--they will vent hydrogen and electrolyte (acid+water mist)... So, they to should be vented and in an area where an accidental venting would not cause damage to people or property.

    I would guess though that most accidents are related to electrical shorts and fires (from shorts, overcharging). So proper fusing/circuit breakers and wiring are an important part to having a safe installation.

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

    i seriously doubt there will be any problems with one battery. btw, agms do not necessarily have glass bottoms, but are a superior battery that you will pay more $ for. gels are ok, but aren't as versatile as the other types imho.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: battery question

    AGM is "Absorbed Glass Mat" lead acid battery... Basically, fiberglass mats hold the electrolyte between the plates. Makes them "spill proof" and better resistance to freezing (10% air or so in the mats leaves room for expansion during freezes). The cases are still some sort of plastic compound (do they even make glass batteries any more?).

    AGMs also have other advantages related to construction that make them a "better battery" for many applications--although, they tend to be much more expensive too.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • GreenPowerManiacGreenPowerManiac Solar Expert Posts: 453 ✭✭✭
    Re: battery question

    Any lead-acid battery will emit fumes to some extent, however, it sounds like your marine battery is not too old. I've seen systems where they had Gels, SLA's, Nicads, & AGM's in their basements. I believe that the NEC code allows this but the distance between the battery bank and inverter must be a set minimum. I believe it's around 10 feet from the bank. Some systems may have externally vented inverters too.

    The wet cells are what really need to be vented good, however it sounds like this is not an issue.
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  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: battery question

    Batteries emit hydrogen gas, which is not dangerous in the way that you are imagining. (Toxic/carcenogenic) The real issue is that hydrogen in certain concentrations is explosive. Batteries only generate hydrogen when they are being charged, and then only when the voltage has reach a fairly high voltage. A single battery is PROBABLY not going to generate enough hydrogen gas to cause a problem, but (larger) battery banks should be vented, ideally with a voltage controlled power vent system.

    Sealed batteries are virtually vent free.

    Tony
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: battery question

    good catch tony as i overlooked his saying "cancer or something". hydrogen is a light gas that is flammable and is not toxic or carcinogenic. agms, if their voltage is kept from exceeding the manufacturer's max voltage, will not emit any gas. standard fla batteries do gas, but it is a small amount of gas. this gassing will increase, not only with an increase in numbers of batteries, but also at higher charge rates. most times what happens is a pocket of gas can form and hit a spark or flame, but this is a remote possibility most of the time. the problem is only during those rare times so most will go the side of caution. i wouldn't worry with 1, 2, or maybe even 3 batteries as long as they are not confined or near heat/spark sources. battery boxes can create confinement that could ignite the gas in the presence of a spark or flame.
    for the record, i ran 3 fla batteries in the past without any problems even when i overcharged them, but they had plenty of air circulation.
  • JamesJames Solar Expert Posts: 248 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    Hello Folks,
    continuing on the topic of AGM battery bank distances and venting...does anyone know the specific NEC rules on distance to inverters and if they must be vented?
    thanks
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: battery question
    James wrote: »
    Hello Folks,
    continuing on the topic of AGM battery bank distances and venting...does anyone know the specific NEC rules on distance to inverters and if they must be vented?
    thanks

    i'm not sure if you are wording your concern wrong or if you just don't know what you are talking about. agms don't gas when operated correctly and i don't know if the nec even says anything about venting batteries at all as i don't recall such a rule. i'm sure somebody will correct me if i'm wrong on this point. as to distances to inverters, that has nothing to do with a vent for a battery or batteries and the inverters themselves do not gas. inverters do need to dissipate the heat they generate so it is wise to keep this from having its air flow blocked.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    As far as I know the only concern with location of batteries and any electrics/electronics is the risk of corrosion if the electrics are mounted directly above the battery bank or in the same cabinet as the battery bank.

    This is only relevant to flooded lead acid batteries.
  • JamesJames Solar Expert Posts: 248 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    Hi Niel,
    Most of the time, yes, I don't know what i'm talking about.
    I am aware that my AGM's do not need venting. I am a bit dyslexic, so bear with me. I was interpteting the thread to indicate that in some cases inspectors want to see AGM's in a vented room. My AGM's are not specifically vented other than the natural room ventilation. I was wondering if there are any NEC rules regarding AGM room venting requirements, and if there are any minimum battery to inverter distance requirements. (my system is not inspected, and I am considering pulling a permit to get it "legal". I do not have a NEC book. Also, yes, I am aware that the inverters do not gas...again, I was just inquiring about any distance minimums.
  • moorsbmoorsb Solar Expert Posts: 38
    Re: battery question

    I have seen an explosion from a battery being charged inside an enclosure. The electrical cabinet also had some contactors inside it which sparked an ignited the gas from charging batteries and blew up a large stainless steel enclosure. The batteries were from a UPS mounted inside the electical cabinet.
  • JamesJames Solar Expert Posts: 248 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    My battery bank is in a basement room off-set from the house, with a concrete roof.
    the room was constructed with provisions for exterior venting, but is not currently ultilized. there is no battery cabinet or enclosure to contain the outgassing, if it ever did so (i'm aware the agms are recombinent)./

    i'm wondering if i need to do anything special in regards to ventilation for the room, not the battery bank, such as an emergency vent system.

    thanks for any insight.
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    In my camper, I have four 200AH AGMs under my bed next to the propane hot water heater, water pump, AC/DC distribution panel (with breakers and fuses) and the 2KW TSW inverter/transfer switch/charger.

    As long as the batteries are charged according to specs with a temperature sensor, I feel very safe.

    EDIT: This is for AGM batteries only.

    K
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: battery question

    if you wish to have a vent there as a just in case then that's ok, but in my opinion it is unnecessary even if the agms would be in an enclosure. to me that's just an air leak during the heat of summer and the cold of winter with an access point inside for bugs.
  • JamesJames Solar Expert Posts: 248 ✭✭
    Re: battery question

    thanks, i agree there should be no need for special venting.
    i have seen many office building ups battery systems in close proximity to occupied areas with no special venting.

    i just want to be safe and up to code.
    thanks all!
  • TakeItEasyTakeItEasy Registered Users Posts: 8
    Re: battery question

    Hello all,

    This is a great thread, I was looking for guidance on a system I'm designing and installing with (4) Deka sealed VRLA AGM batteries and a Magnum PAE inverter. The batteries will be in a Midnite enclosure. The 2 questions I had are:

    1 - I wasn't planning on incorporating any venting other than the natural air circulation in my basement where I'm installing the system, but I wanted to make sure that's ok. From this thread it sounds like I don't have anything to worry about. Would anyone disagree?

    2 - Due to space constraints I was planning on installing the Magnum Panel on the wall above the midnite battery enclosure. Is this a bad idea? I didn't think the sealed AGM batteries inside the enclosure could possibly harm the electronics in the Magnum inverter or panel, but this thread did have a brief mention about the possible corrosion. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks for your help
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: battery question

    When something goes wrong (and it will) what will venting gasses do - where does buildup go?

    Today, my 35 minute absorb time, got stuck at 217 minutes. Not sure what my charge controller was thinking, but I'm going to have to add battery water (again!) to the critters. At least it was cold and it didn't warm them up much.
    And Morningstar seems to have outsourced their tech support to a non-working web page. Slick.
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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: battery question

    AGM Batteries are sealed and do not out gas in normal operation.

    However, they do have pressure reliefs--And if over charged and/or near end of life, they will vent hydrogen gas and possible some acid mist. So--You do need to take some precautions to ensure that venting AGMs do not damage anything nearby.

    Code usually does not allow service panels and such to have items in front... As long as you can easily access the hardware with the battery bank in front--And whatever is underneath is protected against dropping screws/tools/etc. while working on the Magnum.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • TakeItEasyTakeItEasy Registered Users Posts: 8
    Re: battery question

    What's a good recommendation for taking "Some precautions"? A few vents cut into the side of the enclosure in a well ventilated basement, or a fan mounted to an air intake in the enclosure, and a line that goes from the other side of the battery enclosure out of the basement to the outside of the home? Someone mentioned a voltage controlled fan earlier in the thread. Just trying to get a sense of where the bar is set, and I understand that it changes for flooded vs sealed AGM. These AGM's will be a parachute for me, and seldom even enter absorption mode (knock on wood)

    Thanks
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: battery question

    I am a "worst case" kind of guy (at least when working as an engineer). If you do not have anything "expensive" near the battery bank, you probably are OK in a ventilated basement.

    Just don't store you Picasso's next the battery shelf.

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