How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

AceNZAceNZ Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭✭
I'm using Trojan IND17-6V batteries. Each cell has a plastic well below the cap that's about 4 inches deep. The manufacturer suggests filling the water level to about 1/8-inch below the bottom of the well.

I'm finding both checking water levels and refilling to be surprisingly difficult things to do with any consistency. It's hard to accurately gauge depth in the cell, even with a flashlight. I realize that the levels don't need to be exact, but I've been having trouble achieving a consistent specific gravity among all cells, so it seems like having more consistent electrolyte levels would be a good thing to do.

Any tips?

Comments

  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

    I have a Battery filler, the type with a squeeze bulb on it. I have a cable tie at the correct level that stops it on top lip on the well. As I am filling it I squeeze the blub and can hear the air when the electrolyte reaches it and it starts to bubble. These batteries in a compartment you couldn't see in them without taking them out anyway. It works fine. The fill water is in a container with a hose and a push button valve.
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

    Use Distilled water & always use safety glasses , my glasses are ************ making it easy to see. I use the well tube to measure & when the liquid level meets the tube , the image changes in the hole. Always have lots of distilled water there , for dilution if you need to rinse YOU or tools, you'll never have enough once you mix it with great scotch !! ;) The water boils off after time , so a smidgen more won't damage .

    VT

    ************ = p r e s c r i p t i o n ************
  • AceNZAceNZ Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    I have a Battery filler, the type with a squeeze bulb on it. I have a cable tie at the correct level that stops it on top lip on the well. As I am filling it I squeeze the blub and can hear the air when the electrolyte reaches it and it starts to bubble.

    Ah, so you use the battery filler to blow air, rather than water. Very tricky!
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,739 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    I have a Battery filler, the type with a squeeze bulb on it. I have a cable tie at the correct level that stops it on top lip on the well. As I am filling it I squeeze the blub and can hear the air when the electrolyte reaches it and it starts to bubble.

    I use my hydrometer to do that. First I test the level with the hydrometer, and then I dip in a bit deeper and check SG. Then I add water if needed. I don't check the level while I am adding water, but I have learned pretty well how to estimate the water needed (i.e. if the level is down 1/4 inch, add 6 ounces).

    I try to add water in the early afternoon after the batteries are floating. After adding water I run a short (30 minutes) equalization to stir the electrolyte.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    AceNZ wrote: »
    Ah, so you use the battery filler to blow air, rather than water. Very tricky!
    Yes exactly, since I am filling it in the blind. I tried a mirror with a light, no joy. I had that filler for years and hardly used it except to remove electrolyte with from time to time. low tech, but it works.

    I have a old plastic coffee container I put a hose barb in and a 4 ft hose and a push button valve I fill with distilled water. I set it on top and it gravity feeds. it's all pretty quick.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

    I use an automotive battery filler bottle.

    Gurgles until distilled water level meets the filler sleeve and shuts off.

    192 cels about an hour and a half at 2 to 3 times a year.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    Mangas wrote: »
    I use an automotive battery filler bottle.

    Gurgles until distilled water level meets the filler sleeve and shuts off.

    192 cels about an hour and a half at 2 to 3 times a year.
    Those work, they don't hold enough water for me, spend to much time filing them. The spout gets acid on it and it gets all over your hands when you fill it.

    CAUTION : The spout that is spring loaded on them is to long for some batteries and the spout will bend the top of the plates over on some batteries and short them out when you push down. It should be cut off if it's to long. I'v had several customers short their batteries with them.
  • arbyarby Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    Those work, they don't hold enough water for me, spend to much time filing them. The spout gets acid on it and it gets all over your hands when you fill it.

    CAUTION : The spout that is spring loaded on them is to long for some batteries and the spout will bend the top of the plates over on some batteries and short them out when you push down. It should be cut off if it's to long. I'v had several customers short their batteries with them.

    I use one of these. Works pretty good IMO.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/FJC-46342-Battery-Filler-Bottle-2-quart-/400500423569?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&hash=item5d3faf7b91&vxp=mtr
    3310 watts panels, Classic 200 controller, 8 Surette S530's, Xantrex 5548 inverter, Honda EX5500 backup Genny.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 3,113 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

    Hi Ace .,

    Believe that the Trojan IND series batteries are essentially a copy of the Surrette 5000 series -- Dual Container -- batteries.

    The Surrette 5000s appear to have an angle cut-off at the bottom of the Vent Tube. On these batteries, if one fills just to the point of the vent tube just begins deforming the surface of the electrolyte, this is the correct, and consistent fill level.

    Perhaps Trojan did not copy this feature.

    I, too, use a 2 L fill jug, with a tube extension, which usually stops the filling when the electrolyte gets to the correct level. These jugs are a bit slow at filling cells, but really do not like very much of the filling hardware exposed to the elements between watering batteries ... worry a bit about contamination. So this jug has very little to clean before use. Opinions, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 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.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?
    Those work, they don't hold enough water for me, spend to much time filing them. The spout gets acid on it and it gets all over your hands when you fill it.

    CAUTION : The spout that is spring loaded on them is to long for some batteries and the spout will bend the top of the plates over on some batteries and short them out when you push down. It should be cut off if it's to long. I'v had several customers short their batteries with them.

    With the riser Water Miser caps there seems to be plenty of altitude. The automotive filler has worked pretty well. Top row of batteries takes a little longer than the rest.

    I see that Water Miser now offers three sizes.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: How to most consistdently check battery water levels and fill cells?

    I know that you think that every reader has a set of Rolls or Trojan IND batteries, they don't. People read these posts and buy a filler thinking it will work on their batteries. All batteries do not have 2-3 inches above the plates of electrolyte reserve. As I said " SOME " batteries, meaning GC-2 and any deep cycle Marine type battery has a limited space ( 3/4-1" ) These type fillers will touch the plates if the spout is to long and bend the plates when pushed down. Does every filler have a spout that is to long ?? I don't know, some of the ones I have looked at do. How many different ones are Manufactured ?? You also have to have enough space above the batteries to use them, that some would not always have.

    I said " For ME " I find them time consuming to fill and re-fill handling the distilled water 2-3 times from container to container to filler. Since you fill them on the side you have to turn them sideways and try to hold them while filling and to not overflow them. I also find that the spout that you stick in the well has acid on it and hard to remove and re-install with it turned sideways so the water doesn't pour out. If your's doesn't thats fine.

    Added:

    Mangas brought another issue, Water Misers, Hydro Caps and any extended flip top cap can create a issue. Some batteries have a split in the well in the top of the battery. This split allows the gases to escape regardless of electrolyte level. The standard is 1/4 - 1/2 " below the level of the built in well. If your battery does not have a split well ( Rolls /Surrette does not, just a small dimple ) and you fill them up to the well there is no way for the gas to escape with driving the electrolyte up into the well and out of the cap. If your batteries are leaking at the seam, it's a good chance that pressure is building up in the case because the electrolyte level is to high.

    Another Issue, not all batteries are created equal, a HD / Extra Capacity version of the same battery, same size case may have larger plates and the distance between the top of the plates and the well can be different.

    Nothing shocks me about batteries and people in 30 + years dealing with them, I'v seen people that fill them with a water hose and tap water or dip a bucket out of the lake because they were worried about the chlorine in the water.
    .
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