Thermoil for batteries

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I just bought 12 L-16 batteries and was advised by the battery wholesaler that I should this "Thermoil" to put into my new batteries. It is supposed to extend the battery life, lower the water evaporation (only need to add water maybe every 3 months vs. monthly without) and stop all post and cable corrosion.

The cost per bottle is $10 and I would need 1 bottle per L-16 battery, so I'm looking at a $120 cost. Plus I would have to remove enough existing battery acid to be replaced by the Thermoil.

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of this product?

Here is the product web site http://www.thermoilbatteries.com


You can't buy the oil there but the info on it is there. My battery guy also said there (Thermoil) batteries aren't any good, too cheaply made, but the oil is a great product.

Again I'm looking for some actual user experiences or knowledge of this product?

Thanks in advance

Comments

  • rplarry
    rplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    I have never heard of "thermoil" but find it hard to beleive that it would be worth the expense. If it was me I would put my money towards a good charge controller with a Batt. temp sense control, such as the MX60 from Outback. Good luck with your decision.
    Larry
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    The embedded link should probably point here (the actual link points somewhere else that does not resolve for me):

    http://www.thermoilbatteries.com/

    I have not heard about this before--will be interested if anyone here has tried it.

    -Bill

    PS: Here is an RV Board where people seem to be using both Thermoil or Mineral Oil with good results (or, at least, no damage). One person thought that it caused their batteries to fail early--but I did not read anything that actually link it to the oil.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    here's a different way to look at it; if it were such a great additive most of the battery manufacturers would be adding it to their batteries or would be recommending it. do not add this kind of stuff to your batteries without consulting your battery manufacturer first. odds are, even if it doesn't hurt the battery in its life or capacity(which it probably does hurt) it would void the warranty.
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries
    Tombstoner wrote: »
    I just bought 12 L-16 batteries and was advised by the battery wholesaler that I should this "Thermoil" to put into my new batteries. It is supposed to extend the battery life, lower the water evaporation (only need to add water maybe every 3 months vs. monthly without) and stop all post and cable corrosion.

    I think there is a typo, and he meant to say Snakeoil, and forgot to mention the other things it does, enhance manhood, and womanhood, and raises children's IQ 15 points.

    I really love this one " will help to keep your battery working under any condition from -50º to 400º Fahrenheit and is Guaranteed 100%. " RIGHT!

    " Q Does Themoil give the battery longer life?
    Yes and No. It will not give it any more cycles. Some batteries are manufactured to get 300 cycles and some say 400 battery cycles and so on. All batteries are different. The more expensive batteries usually have more life cycles. You get what you pay for. But, if you took two identical batteries and added the oil to one and not the other and failed or just forgot to check the water and clean the corrosion off of the non-Thermoil battery, the Thermoil battery would 'probably' last 2 to 3 times (Years) longer because the other battery would run out of water, and corrosion would drain the battery power faster which would reduce the number of cycles of the non-Thermoil battery."
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
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  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Actually, reading the RV board on this--they were not negative. I was looking around for problems caused by the oil. About the only major issue I saw (in my little bit of looking) was possible issues of sloshing oil onto the plates during driving... But, again, no real complaints that it actually caused a battery to fail.

    I don't think it will make a battery cycle better (even the Thermoil FAQ says it will not affect the cycle life of the battery). Keeping evaporation down and acid mist from spreading sounds like it could be helpful. Statements that don't need to equalize the batteries anymore and such--kind of sounds like there is a little fluff in those particular statements (along with somebody seeming to claim it made a weak battery better).

    Not putting in any of my batteries at this time though.

    The one thing I found interesting was on the Thermoil website itself. That was that the original Thermoil formulation did reduce cycle life of the battery--but they started a new Thermoil company with a new formulation which fixed the "original" problems (and that company is still selling the original formula).

    The one major issue seems to be an argument about the oil causing problems with hydrometers... Claim that one can simply bubble air out under the electrolyte/oil interface and things are OK.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • crewzer
    crewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Here’s what Trojan Battery and Rolls/ Surrette have to say about battery maintenance, watering, and battery additives:

    Trojan:

    Do you ever add acid to a battery? Under normal operating conditions, you never need to add acid. Only distilled, deionized or approved water should be added to achieve the recommended levels mentioned above. When a battery is shipped in a dry state or accidental spillage occurs, electrolyte should be added to the battery. Once filled, a battery should only need periodic water addition.

    http://www.trojanbattery.com/Tech-Support/FAQ/Maintenance.aspx


    Rolls / Surrette:

    Battery Additives. Most battery additives are mainly a form of a common preservative, EDTA. These additives help to increase the solubility of the sulfate in the electrolyte (common salt effect). Some additives contain cadmium sulfate and this could cause disposal problems in the future. These additives are not beneficial and are not recommended.

    http://www.rollsbattery.com/Bulletins/605.htm

    The chemical formula for the charge and discharge process for lead-acid batteries is described on page 9 of the document linked below. Besides electricity, the process involves lead, lead dioxide, sulfuric acid, lead sulfate, and water. I don’t see where Thermoil, aspirin, or any other snake oil is part of the equation. Accordingly, I recommend against adding anything but distilled water to flooded-cell lead-acid deep-cycle batteries.

    http://www.exideindustrialbatteries.com/pdf/inst_man.pdf

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • lamplight
    lamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    LOL! first laugh of the day thanks
    mike90045 wrote: »
    I think there is a typo, and he meant to say Snakeoil, and forgot to mention the other things it does, enhance manhood, and womanhood, and raises children's IQ 15 points.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    my further comment on this quote from bb.
    "Keeping evaporation down and acid mist from spreading sounds like it could be helpful."

    looking at this in general it would seem that the goal they had in mind was a coating that would be on the plates in the event of exposure to the air as the oil would be lighter and float on the top of the electrolyte. at least in theory it would do this, but through the charging action electrolyte from deep within the battery would be carried upward through the gassing that takes place. this would also wash off the oil from the exposed plate portions thusly not doing much in preventing sulphation.
    in keeping evaporation or misting down i, again, say no it won't because of the bubbling action of charging. it would stop evaporation when not charging i would imagine. would i add the oil to prevent that from happeing while not charging? no! keeping a charge on the battery with a proper charge rate will minimize the loss of electrolyte through evaporation. anybody who buys a standard lead acid battery accepts that a small degree of evaporation will take place and adding some water back to it will also help prevent sulphation along with keeping a full charge on it regularly.
    do i believe that the adding of that oil degrades the ampacity of the battery? yes! the reason why is that the same bubbling that occurs while charging a battery will circulate the oil(no longer standing on the battery top) and at some points it will sit in between the electrolyte and the plate surfaces. that may also intefere with charging to a small degree as well, unless an overly vigorous charge would dislodge the trapped oil on the plates, but then you are back to the evaporation problem in doing this aren't you?
    does this not make sense? maybe they were too embarrassed to admit they had spent good money that did take away the capacity and lifespan of their batteries to some degree. i've established that it prevents little and causes alot on a good battery. so what of adding it to salvage an older battery? what's the point as at that time the damage is already irreversibly done and i've already established it will not prevent more damage?
    stay away from products like that people and if you are thinking about it, then ask the battery manufacturer about using it and not the dealer that sold you the battery that in some cases may be looking to sell you another one sooner.
  • Windsun
    Windsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    The last testimonial on their site is dated 2003, and the last one before that was 1998.

    That indicated to me that they don't get many testimonials :p
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Again, I am not "selling" the idea of using some sort of oil in storage batteries to somehow extend the physical life of the "wet components" and that I don't believe that adding "oil" will fix a failing battery...

    However, I thought I had read years ago that adding oil to storage batteries was not usual, and from reading around, I still cannot find any specific failure(s) caused by adding an appropriate oil to an otherwise well operating cell.

    Just another quick "Clusty-ing" (rather than Google) around, I found this WPA.gov (PDF) document:
    This guide is issued by the Western Area Power Administration (Western) and is designed to provide specific data, criteria, and recommendations for the safe maintenance and testing of storage battery systems in Western.

    The procedures and guidelines contained in this document are in accordance with established industry standards and current industry practices. Any corrections or comments concerning this guide may be addressed to the Western Area Power Administration, A6200, Golden, Colorado.
    ...
    Excessive water loss:


    1. Normally water should be added when the level approaches the low level mark which is every two to three years.

    However, to retard excessive water loss, add a thin layer (usually one-quarter inch deep) of pure mineral oil on top of the electrolyte.
    ...
    3.4.2.3 Oil Use in Battery Cells. To retard water loss from evaporation and electrolysis, some manufacturers recommend floating a thin layer (usually one-quarter inch deep) of pure mineral oil on top of the electrolyte.

    Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding oil use in battery cells.

    Also found another place where (historically) a "battery like" device was used in the phone industry and they floated mineral oil on the surface of the electrolyte:
    Counter-E.M.F. cells are used in telephone power plants to reduce voltage for a tap or feeder and also to control the voltage on the battery bus bar while charging. Their function is similar to that of a series resistor except that the voltage drop in a countercell averages 2.to 2-1/2 volts per cell and varies little with changes in current.
    The cell container or jar is filled with an alkaline solution over which there is a layer of neutral mineral oil. Plates are suspended in this solution and connected in series with the battery. The voltage drop in the cell is the voltage expended in forcing the current from one group of plates through the solution to the other plates. The plates are all of the same material (nickel or stainless steel which contains nickel) so that the plates can be connected to either polarity. There is practically no storage of charge in the plates so that cells in a working circuit can be shorted with safety. The disadvantage of their use lies in the fact that energy is dissipated in the counter cells, produces heat and the decomposition of water, which results in a large amount of gassing. The gases are hydrogen and oxygen which form an explosive mixture. There has been a number of explosions of counter cells in the Bell System and in a few cases have resulted in physical injuries. Today the use of these cells are not looked upon favorably and their use is decreasing.


    Does Thermoil do anything different (better/worst) mineral oil? Don't know... Is adding oil to storage batteries equivalent to when "doctors" used to bleed patients to make them well? Don't know...

    At least, indirectly (through the WPA document from ~1990), it appears that one or more manufacturers in the past have actually told their customers to add mineral oil to fixed installation storage batteries.

    Just sounds like an interesting solution to some problems that are common to flooded cell lead/acid batteries (loss of water and corroding cables/connections). Certainly will not reduce hydrogen generation.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    bb,
    for the record i wasn't implying anything about you, but only addressing a scenario you brought up about the subject. if i get this right, some battery manufacturers are willing to continue guaranteeing their battery's capacity and lifespan by telling the consumers of their batteries to add 1/4 inch of mineral oil on the tops of each cell because the consumers didn't feel like adding water after 3 years? makes sense to me. how about you bill? row row row your boat gently through the bull.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Niel,

    I have several times looked hard for somebody saying that oil in a battery has actually damaged anything... The only site I found was in the Thermoil FAQ itself (interestingly).

    Honestly, I don't have a horse in this race--I was just looking for anyone with experience(s) with oil in battery (the RV site was one I found, the WPA was another, a reference to the old Bell system was a third).

    If a person 1. keeps the water level up (but not over filled) and 2. keeps the batteries clean, and 3. has a properly maintained and operating charging system--the oil will probably not do much for them.

    Is Thermoil worth the money, worth any money? Don't know--...

    Is there anyway that a small user can, cost effectively, test and qualify the effects of oil in a battery--probably not.

    Personal stories are not always the best method to determine the suitability of any product/process (but that is whey we are here, isn't it-- ;) ).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Windsun
    Windsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    I have seen batteries that were damaged.

    What can happen is that if the acid gets too low, the oil can soak/coat the top part of the plates, basically insulating them.

    A few years ago we cut open a battery that had used oil, and the top 1/2" or so of the plates were still about 70% there even though below that they were just about totally gone.

    Batteries would still work, but at reduced capacity.

    But I figure there must be a reason why no current battery manufacturer recommends it.
  • Solar Guppy
    Solar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    I haven't found a reference that adding Milk, Ice Tea, Ice Cream or Laxatives to batteries causes damage, so it must be OK since the manufactures don't list these additives as something that would reduce the battery lifetime or performance ...

    :roll:

    What Neil Said, if there as ANY advantage to having something other than water/acid in the batterys , I WOULD BE THERE ...

    Then again, there seems to be an never ending market for this years snake oil, not only improves perfromance, but increases mileage 35%, but the big bad companys don't want YOU to know about this super secret stuff ... Hopefully, you get the idea by now.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Come-on Solar Guppy, there is lots of references to damage to batteries by adding reactive foreign substances to batteries. And "Milk, Ice Tea, Ice Cream or Laxatives" would be included as substances that reacted with Sulfuric Acid.

    Regarding oil, I have found some very reputable sources that oil (apparently) was recommended (at one time by battery manufacturers?) as an additive to batteries.

    I accept Wind-Sun's experiences that showed a battery was "well used" (plates were totally gone), but still had the last 1/2" or so left--because they were coated by oil when the water level was not kept above the plates.

    Which, in my post was one of the warnings/questions I saw earlier warning about oil on plates if the water level got too low or if there was sloshing (motion in a vehicle, for example).

    Just saying, that it seems there was a kernel of truth in the oil in battery myth, at one time. But, it appears to not be worth while because it creates other issues (oil saturated plates and difficulties taking reliable hydrometer readings).

    Possibly better chargers and battery designs have helped reduce the very problem oil in the battery was trying to fix in the first place.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Solar Guppy
    Solar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    OK BB, Time for a Can of Slick50 for the battery bank in my Garage ( They are sealed AGMS ) ...:roll:

    Sorry dude, its one of the problems of being an Engineer, I'm not ever taken by this folk lore chatter. If its better, the companys would do it ... as it would be a competitive advantage .. end of story

    but enought of this distraction as I have more importiant things to do, time to go add some Acetone to gas tank of the truck for improved gas mileage ;)
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Yep, one of the problems with being an engineer that designed the first BellCore compliant voice mail system for the RBOC's (about 25 years ago), was that I had to comply with the phone companies' sometimes conflicting requirements (that I had to resolve--and sometimes hand wave about to get one system that could meet both BellCore and UL specs.) for 48 VDC system vs UL's requirements--and the phone companies' very paranoid control about what chemicals, lubricants, and such went into their switch rooms (boy, did they hate silicon grease--they claimed it would out-gas and get into the old crossbar relays, form an oxide, and prevent voice signals from going through the switch--I was told that they had to rip out an entire central office when the locksmith used silicon grease on the door lock).

    I had my systems in New Jersey (and other labs labs in the North East) being baked (in the old oven that was first used for Telstar satellite qualifications), place on a rail road car simulator, earthquake simulator, had fire set to it in several areas (flame spread, smoke, and ability for an extinguisher to put out a fire), fans disabled, etc...

    We had several book cases full of BellCore Specs.--but for my needs I only needed about two books to figure out the basic requirements I needed to meet; which was tough--because the NEBS--Network Equipment Building Specs.--were for the "regulated side of the business", but the voice mail system was for the unregulated side of the business--since it was all new (Judge Green's decision), nobody was sure what specs. I even needed to meet.

    Usually, I was not even allowed to take pictures of installations (during the product definition stage)--not because of security--but because the EMI from a camera flash had a strong risk of bringing down an entire central office of 10's of thousands of phone line (the old equipment was not well protected against static discharge either).

    I don't have access to any of those specs now--but it would not surprise me that they too (at one time) went into great detail about battery system design, construction, and maintenance... Back in the days (before my time--by a lot), the storage battery cells had no tops--I could see mineral oil used there to keep evaporation/acid misting down (there were several old battery like designs--voltage drop and rectifier cells--that did use mineral oil floating on electrolyte to reduce evaporation).

    Ain't folk lore or chatter--was real at the time. That is why I went to the effort to research the history (of what I could find on the web). I did not believe that somebody dumped 10w-40 motor oil in their batteries and were good to go.

    Over the years, I have found that many "myths" had foundations in fact--and I was not prepared to dismiss this one as having no grounding in fact.

    That oil is not used now does not surprise me... We hardly use vacuum tubes anymore either--and I had to explain what a record player was to both of my young daughters recently (old movie references, local record store with one in the window).

    Using mineral oil to protect reactive objects from air/moisture was also common in my chemistry class days too (sodium was stored in mineral oil, dentists store mercury amalgam in mineral oil).

    Quite a difference between floating non-reactive mineral oil (which had been done historically) and putting something like aspirin (or whatever) in a storage battery.

    Unfortunately, I could not find a better picture--but this is (one of) the voicemail projects I did the basic system engineering (packaging, power, system) design and major subsystem electrical design for back in the mid-1980's:

    http://its.unc.edu/hub/2007/02/28/octel_outage/#more-750

    Kind of neat to see it still running and that they even went to the trouble of moving (with the rest of the phone system) some 14 years after it was installed.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    Thanks for the reply guys - much appreciated.
    A newbe doesn't know unless he asks and no way was I pushing the product. Just looking for advice.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    The only possible advantage I could see is if the battery bank were in a very hot, very dry climate, subject to large evaporation losses, AND went unattended for long periods of time. (Not a common sceanario) Even then it sounds a bit more like snake oil rather than thermoil, as simple cheap mineral oil does the same thing.

    Icarus
  • Vic
    Vic Solar Expert Posts: 3,208 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Thermoil for batteries

    SnakeOil was indeed the first thought in my mind.

    For RE installations, where the investment n batteries can be large and battery maintenance is a system design parameter, I would never think of adding some foreign matter to my expensive batteries. Agree that if the maunfacturer wanted it there, there it would be.

    If the tedium of checking and adding water is just too much effort, then perhaps VRLA batteries would be the way to go.

    Personally, I would not even want to expose my good hygrometer to some oil. would also wonder about the effects of acid on the oil over time.

    Am perhaps too picky about just which distilled water to add to my battery pack.
    Good to ask questions, Good Luck Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH X2@48V, 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.