Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

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  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    That's a good idea Eric. I'll probably be checking the batteries frequently during the equalization to make sure nothing unusual happens. I just tracked my shipment on the new Ratelco charger and it's due to get here early next week. Look forward to getting it and hopefully starting to get these batteries back into a more useful condition!
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    I'm up and running on the equalization idea. I received my Ratelco rectifier today. It sure is nice to work with something that is high quality. I had to wire in an AC cord, move some jumpers around, and wire in a DC output cord with battery clamps. In the process of doing this, I had a good chance to get a very good impression. The way it's put together, the way the wires are bundled and routed, everything about it seems to be top notch. I'm pretty picky about stuff, and so usually I'm disappointed about equipment these days.

    Anyway, I had one small hiccup in getting the rectifier set up on the first battery. When I adjusted the tiny potentiometer that set the voltage, the rectifier kept shutting down when it got past 15.20V. The rectifier also showed "high voltage" LED illuminated on the panel. Apparently, they didn't expect to have the rectifier run past 15.2V. In any case, the input AC breaker is a shunt trip type that the rectifier kept tripping. It was definitely not because of an overload at 15.2V and 1.5A! I eventually just disconnected the shunt trip leads from the breaker and was able to get up to the recommended 15.50V with no problem. I'd rather not have to do this, but it's the only way I could get to 15.50V. It is holding rock solid at 15.50V.

    Right now, the battery is only accepting around 1.5A. Obviously, it is badly sulfated and that's probably why it doesn't want to accept any more charge. That's the whole point of all this is to try to force the battery to take more charge at the higher voltage. I'll have to see how the current changes over time. I'm set for equalizing for 8 hours. I plan to check on it ever hour to see if everything looks good and if the battery temp is OK.

    Edward
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    I've finished the equalization of the first battery and on to the 2nd one now. I'm posting details here so it can be in the archives for future searches on the topic of conditioning/equalizing Lifeline Concorde AGM batteries.

    First of all, I'll say that the 2 guys at Lifeline I've talked with know what they are talking about. So far, everything has been going as they said. I've been trying to follow the procedure exactly. I am conditioning them in the garage and battery temps are around 62F. Following the Lifeline conditioning procedure, I have my charger set to 15.70V. 15.50V is for 77V. I was told that the batteries should not get too warm, and that there should not be any venting. Both were true so far. I never heard any sign of venting whenever I checked (hourly) and the battery case temperature held steady at around 62F all around. No signs of bulging or pressurization of the battery case. If I put my ear on top of the battery and listened very carefully, I could hear a very slight "bubbling". Lifeline said that is normal for the equalization and that the batteries are designed so they should still not vent. They were right. The must build their batteries with a stronger relief valve (set to a higher PSI). Moreso, I guess they know their batteries best and how they behave. They told me they have 5 guys that work in a lab where they are constantly testing and coming up with better ideas.

    The first battery I conditioned so far was the worst one of the batch of 16. It had a resting voltage of only around 12.50V after full charge, and it clearly had capacity loss greater than the rest. After a full charge, I started equalization. Initially, the ammeter showed closer to 2.0A and then quickly moved to around 1.5A and finally held steady at 1.0A for most of the duration. I checked it 3 hours after equalization was completed and the resting voltage is now 12.68V. I plan to follow the advice of the Lifeline guys and equalize that one again later. I was told to check resting voltage and if it's around 12.8-12.9V, then consider it good. If after one equalization, the resting voltage is still too low, then do it again.

    So far so good. Hoping I can get the whole set of 16 sulfated batteries back to useful life again.

    Edward
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    i have my fingers crossed for you. i have my doubts on the first one you just did ever reaching the good at rest voltage range, but if it does it can be considered borderline i think.
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Thanks Niel. I also have my doubts about that battery. I suspect I'll be doing the equalization again on some of these. If in the end, if I have a set of 12 useful batteries, then that would be good. If I could get a set of 16 useful batteries, then that would be great!!

    One of the tech guys at Lifeline told me that it's not recommended to replace one bad battery, but he said that he would personally do it if there were 15 other good ones. I'll have to wait and see how everything turns out after the dust settles on this equalization.

    I'm in a groove now where I will be doing 3 batteries per day. With going a 2nd round on some of these, then that means it will probably take me close to a week to get done. Then I'll have to sort through and see what I can put together. If some batteries turn out "bad", then I'll probably equalize more than twice just to see what happens. Don't have anything to lose if the battery is bad already.

    The other batteries I've equalized since the first have gone the same way - no noticeable venting and no heating of the batteries.

    Edward
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Good luck with this project Edward! Please let us know how it turns out. I'm pleased to hear that Lifeline/Concorde (the original developers of AGM technology) was so willing to help you through this endeavor. It seems like a tedious job but, as you say, you're "dialed in."

    Lifeline was my first choice for batteries but I could not find a local distributor, so I went with East Penn. I'm happy with them.

    K
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Thanks Kamala. I'm about halfway through equalizing the group of batteries. I just switched to equalizing 2 batteries wired in parallel to speed the process after verifying that the charger can handle it. I expect that I will be repeating the equalization process on some of these batteries, and so it might be a while before I can determine how successful the process has been.

    Hoping for the best, but prepared for the reality that some of these batteries might not come back up to proper operating condition.

    Edward
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Aww... yer still fightin' a good fight. Hang in there... and again, Good Luck!

    EDIT: Maybe parallel charging is not so good. Can't elaborate. Others weigh in.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,994 admin
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Verify that the batteries are properly sharing the current (check every hour or so with a DC Clamp meter or something).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    My Tif DC clamp meter is kaputt. I bought another one on eBay today. I decided to experiment doing 2 batteries at once in parallel. I'm trying to put together "matched" pairs that had similar resting voltages, and also ones that had similar voltage drops during my load testing.

    The thing that has been interesting to me so far in this equalization experiment is that fact that the batteries pull very little current. I am following the procedure recommended by Lifeline, and so I am starting out with batteries that have been charged. When I hook up the charged battery and apply 15.73V (temperature compensated for current conditions in the garage), I initially see about a 2A draw. In a short time, the current creeps down to around 1A and just stays that way for most of the 8 hour equalization.

    So far, all that batteries have behaved the same way. I figure that the batteries are just accepting what they "want". I thought if I held the voltage constant, then the batteries would accept what they want from the charger. While I do the equalization, I have my desulfator hooked up to the batteries as well. I figure it shouldn't hurt any and might help a little in breaking up the sulfate crystals.

    Edward
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    in your contact with concorde did you ask them their thoughts on placing the desulfator to the batteries?
    these agms are very efficient in that they can draw less during the charge cycle to achieve the same results as their fla counterparts would. it won't be a huge difference though, but when it comes to solar or conservation these little differences like this can go a long way.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,994 admin
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Not knowing which battery is accepting current, or if both are, may be a bit of an issue in diagnosing how they are performing.

    One check--Just use a long and/or relatively small gauge wire going to each battery (positive or negative)--one matched wire to each.

    Put your DVM on millivolt or 2 volt maximum scale and measure the voltage drop on each wire--use it like a current shunt... Equal voltage is equal current. 2x volt drop on one wire--2x current to that battery.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Niel, I did talk with them about the desulfator, and they seemed indifferent about it. They just focused on their recommendation to equalize. We did discuss the fact that the equalization procedure is supposed to help the plates break up and shed the lead sulfate crystals. That's also the theory behind the desulfator, so it seems that the desulfator would help speed up the process a little... assuming that the desulfator does anything at all besides light up that pretty LED!!! :)

    Bill, That's an interesting idea to check voltage drop. I just thought of another idea. My Fluke digital multimeter will also measure current flow. Since the currents involved are low, I could try to use it to see how much current each battery is accepting. Am I thinking about that right?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,994 admin
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    On 10 amp full scale,a DMM has fairly low series resistance. But in a low resistance setup like a parallel battery bank, it may change the current flow--So it may not be that accurate.

    In this case, the batteries themselves are probably the major influence on current flow.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Just a little update on how it's going...

    I finished up equalizing all the batteries today. Now I've moved on to starting the process again. Currently, I'm equalizing my worst battery in the batch for a 2nd time. Originally, this "dud" had a resting voltage of 12.50V after being fully charged. After the first equalization (and after sitting a few days), it had a resting voltage of 12.58V. It's an improvement, but I'm not sure how much better it's going to get. I'm not giving up on it yet.

    On the positive side, other than one other battery with a resting voltage of 12.66V, all the others now have a resting voltage of between 12.70 - 12.79V. Most are in the mid 12.7X's. That's for batteries that have sat resting for at least 1 day after equalization. The last 4 batteries, I'm waiting for more time to pass before recording their resting voltages, but from initial checks they look like they will settle down with similar resting voltages. So, there is some definite improvement. I'm going to following Lifeline's advice and "do it again" and run all these through another 8 hour equalization.

    After seeing this improvement, I'm hopeful that many of these batteries will get back to useful condition. The only battery I'm concerned about is that "dud" that had the 12.58V resting voltage after 1st equalization. It'd be a bummer if just one battery ended up being "bad". In that case, I might search for one replacement battery if all 15 others turn out to be good. Too early to tell what will happen with that one battery. I'm going to try hard to salvage it.

    Edward
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,994 admin
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    You are discharging them fairly deeply before throwing them back on charge?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Bill, I didn't discharge them after the 1st equalization. Lifeline didn't recommend doing that. They just said that if the resting voltage didn't come up high enough (12.8-12.9 range) after the 1st equalization, then do it again.

    Do you think that discharging them, charging back up, and then equalizing again would be beneficial?

    I might try that if after the 2nd equalization on this "dud" battery, it doesn't make a noticeable improvement.

    Edward
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,994 admin
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Edward,

    It might help... With standard lead acid batteries they do increase capacity from new with 50-75 cycles or so...

    Perhaps, with AGM, the plates can't shed material--so there is less effects from cycling.

    I would not wish to second guess the battery engineers. I don't think I would come out ahead in that contest. :p

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Hope everyone had a nice Christmas holiday. I just got back into town, and did some checking on my batteries after they rested for several days. Here's the final conclusion.... equalizing them according to Lifeline's recommendations did help bring up the resting voltage on all of them. One 8 hour equalization brought them all up a significant amount. Following Lifeline's advice, I did another equalization to try to bring them up closer to proper resting voltage spec. There was a small improvement. On some of the batteries with lower resting voltage, I tried for a 3rd equalization. As I mentioned before, battery temperatures never exceeded maybe 2F over ambient temperature and there were no signs of outgassing at any time, so I decided to try a 3rd attempt on some of the batteries.

    In the end, most of the batteries ended up in the 12.7X's (probably average around 12.75V). Some were lower 12.7's and some lower 12.8's, but average probably around mid 12.7's. These voltage readings were taken after a few days of resting.

    On the "dud" battery that I had that was stuck at resting voltage of 12.50V, equalization attempts brought it up to 12.66V. I then hooked it up to a Battery Minder pulse desulfating charger for about 1 week, and after letting it rest overnight (~12 hours), it's still stuck at 12.66V resting voltage. It seems that this is probably as good as it's going to get on that one. So, I've got one stuck at 12.66V and the highest probably 12.82V and most hovering in the mid 12.7's.

    I hooked up 4 of the better batteries (avg around 12.8V) in a string and hooked them up to my wind turbine system. When I charge them, I still get uneven voltages like I did before. When bulk charging at 57.6V, I might see 15.4V on one battery and another battery lower and the 2 others closer to each other in battery voltage. So, I'm "cooking" one battery at higher voltage, undercharging another, while a couple of them of them are closer to proper charging voltage. Right now, I have this particular string of 4 batteries on float charge of 53.2V (which should be 13.3V per battery as recommended by Lifeline). This is what I am seeing (positive hookup = 1st battery on left... 4th battery at negative hookup).

    13.55V, 13.43V, 13.04V, 13.28V

    Charger amperage now in float mode is at 0.2A which is about the 250ma draw of the desulfator I have hooked up. So, effectively the charge current is almost nothing in float mode.

    The difference is more pronounced at higher bulk charging voltages.

    At this point, I wonder if hooking up 4 batteries in parallel would be better. Then hook up those four 12V strings in series to get my 48V. This would take a lot more copper, as I use 4/0 on all my battery connections. I wonder if hooking up this way would help to reduce the large variation in charging voltages that I am seeing. This is just a gut impression. I normally experiment to see what the results are, but in this case I'd have to invest in a fair amount of more copper to try this idea out to get all the other 4/0 interconnect cables needed and to make new 4/0 cables that run to my main breaker.

    I know that the proper way to deal with this is probably to get a new battery bank. In reality, I don't rely on this battery bank on a daily basis (I'm on grid) as it's only a backup for "emergency situations" when grid power is down. I usually keep it in float mode and excess power coming in from wind power (and solar in the future) goes to heat hot water. I don't like this battery inequality situation, but at this point, I'm trying to make the best of it with what I've got. If changing my 4 strings of 4 batteries to be set up as 4 strings of 12V hooked up in series to make my 48V would help, then I'd consider investing in the copper to make that change.

    Edward
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    i don't think series or parallel is in order until you determine their capacity. they need a proper load testing and this should not be done to all of the batteries at once, as in series or parallel, but individually. those that don't deliver 80% of their capacity or more are considered no good by concorde.
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    For those of you with battery banks, could you do a little test for me the next time you are charging your battery bank? Check the voltage across individual batteries in a string and let me know what you see.

    I see uneven voltages in a string while I am charging, but after I turn off the charger and check resting voltages, they are very close. Just curious what others see during charging.

    Thanks,

    Edward
  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    How much of a difference are you talking about? I've seen mine vary slightly, while charging (haven't yet measured them under a strong discharge current). It would make some sense that they would tend to even out a bit, as any lower voltage cells would likely be charged by the higher voltage cells?
    I'll let you know it just a few here exactly how mine measure, bearing in mind that I do have some sulphated batteries too ... so this might be of no comfort to you. Sun should start putting in some stronger charge current pretty soon here, and I'll go get you some readings.
  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Ok, so I checked my 8 batteries and there was some slight variance of voltages with the highest battery measuring 0.05V higher than the lowest. This was when they first started getting a charging current... then I went and rechecked once they reached an absorb voltage of 30.3 with temperature compensation (it's COLD right now). This was interesting as the voltage readings were all over the place; starting from the positive end of string one voltages read 7.61, 7.46, 7.58, and 7,65 on string two 7.58, 7.50, 7.53, 7.65.

    Not sure if this is any comfort to you or not, as I said my batteries are certainly having some "issues" of their own right now. This may also not be the best time to check, since our batteries were almost totally full this morning (well as full as they get right now anyways). I'll recheck the voltages in a while after they've been at absorb for a bit longer to see if things settle down or not. Usually our at rest voltages are pretty darn close all in all.
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Thanks Hillbilly. Your readings are helpful. I noticed that early in a charge cycle, my variation is less. Then when the batteries are more fully charged, the variations increase.

    I see that the greatest variation you had was around .38V. My variations are greater than yours, but then again my batteries have more issues. I just checked and saw a .89V variation between hightest & lowest on one of my strings of 4 x 12V batteries. I know that is not good.

    Thanks for the data. It is helpful for me to be able to compare to what others are seeing.

    Edward
  • NEOHNEOH Solar Expert Posts: 74 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Hillbilly,
    I noticed that in BOTH series strings the two middle batteries have the lowest voltage and the two end batteries have the highest voltage. I say, "hmmm". Maybe, it is time to swap the two middle batteries with the two end batteries? Swap #1 with #2 and swap #3 with #4? Are the two middle batteries consistently warmer that the two end batteries?
  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries
    NEOH wrote: »
    Hillbilly,
    I noticed that in BOTH series strings the two middle batteries have the lowest voltage and the two end batteries have the highest voltage. I say, "hmmm". Maybe, it is time to swap the two middle batteries with the two end batteries? Swap #1 with #2 and swap #3 with #4? Are the two middle batteries consistently warmer that the two end batteries?

    Yes they are always a bit warmer, being in the middle of the pack. Interestingly the voltages settled down and evened out not too much later on. And most interestingly the batteries with the higher voltages are not the same as the batteries with the lowest SG levels.
    dunno???
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    Just a small update on these sulfated Lifeline Concorde batteries. I tried something different on the "dud" battery that started out with a resting voltage of 12.50V. After 3 equalizations, that battery came up to 12.66V. I decided to try something that Battery Life Saver recommends with their desulfator. They recommended a gradual, deep discharge and recharge with the desulfator attached. I discharged around 10.5A which was at the 8 hr discharge curve on these batteries. I should have gotten 8 hours until 10.5V, but I got around 6.5 hours. This dud battery is around 80% capacity. I charged/discharged 3 times with the desulfator connected and after it rested for 24 hours, it had a resting voltage of 12.71V. That was at around 50F in the garage. Not great, but I'm going to use it rather than cutting out a string of batteries. My whole battery bank is less than ideal, but I plan to milk it for as long as it lasts. Then I'll get rid of these "learning" batteries and start over.

    All that to say, the equalizations and using the desulfator did help some. In the case of this battery, it brought it from a 12.50V to 12.71V resting voltage.

    Edward
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    i see you did not pay attention to what i said about the voltage of concorde agms. they are considered 0% soc at 11.6v, not 10.5v.
  • keyturbocarskeyturbocars Solar Expert Posts: 375 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries

    I am talking about battery voltage under load, not resting voltage.


    LoadVDOD.jpg
  • monolocomonoloco Solar Expert Posts: 103 ✭✭
    Re: Sulfated Lifeline Concorde AGM Batteries
    For those of you with battery banks, could you do a little test for me the next time you are charging your battery bank? Check the voltage across individual batteries in a string and let me know what you see.

    I see uneven voltages in a string while I am charging, but after I turn off the charger and check resting voltages, they are very close. Just curious what others see during charging.

    Thanks,

    Edward
    I just checked my almost new Concorde AGM's while under float I saw 6.64, 6.75, 6.73, 6.86, 6.77, 6.69, 6.72, 6.70. I was a bit surprised to see the different voltages. Is this normal?
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