What causes properly charged and stored lead acid batteries to go bad over time?

softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,796 ✭✭✭✭
Let us say the batteries never exceed 70F and *never* dip below ~12.55 volts. They are stored very well with an average storage temperature of ~50F.

Having read and seen reports of lightly used solar batteries providing 10 years of service, I would have thought that properly stored and unused batteries would last even longer.

I do have a couple marine deep cycles that are still providing light service and were built in 2007. Also seeing how much additional service I can squeeze out of some large railroad engine batteries that were installed in 2008.

Rarely the one to keep things simple, I don't think I have seen an entire battery go bad. It is always a bad cell, maybe two. This leads me to speculate that a high quality battery that is installed and used properly and lightly.....may enjoy quite a prodigious life.

By the way, it was Trojan T105s that have repeatedly provided 10 or 11 years of service to the sailboat "Sailing Emerald Steel" of youtube. They replace the string when they get a bad cell. Understandable after 10 or 11 years.

I have developed a bad cell in regular truck 8D's after ~1 1/2 years several times. The rest of the battery is often fine. This leads me to question the quality of the Johnson Control 8D's. FWIW....Sam's Club recently switched from Johnson to East Penn. The rep calling the Johnson's "junk". It really did seem that Johnson quality had slipped precipitously over the past couple years.
First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You said it.  Time
    metal, even lead, sitting in acid, breaks down. Bits flake off, thermal stress breaks bits off, and parts slowly corrode away. Better batteries with longer warranties, have thicker grids and plates, that last longer, but even they fail eventually.
    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 ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,796 ✭✭✭✭
    mike95490 said:
    You said it.  Time
    metal, even lead, sitting in acid, breaks down. Bits flake off, thermal stress breaks bits off, and parts slowly corrode away. Better batteries with longer warranties, have thicker grids and plates, that last longer, but even they fail eventually.
    Perfectly logical. What if a person drained 1/2 the acid and replaced it with distilled water? Which reminds me....we used to be able to buy dry batteries. One could either add battery acid or dry acid and water.  I think their shelf life was simply enormous. Seems that manufacturers now cater to people with almost no skills whatsoever.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭✭

    Flooded batteries being stored,  still have self-discharge,   and would need to be charged and cycled,   on occasion.   In general  some cycling is good for FLAs,   IMO.

    Speaking of "truck batteries",   probably starting batteries do have more plates than do deep-cycle batteries.   This can cause more opportunity for shorting of cells.

    High quality deep cycle batteries often have more space below plate bottoms,  have enveloped plates (porous plastic envelopes),  Moss Guards at the plate tops,   and probably better quality control during manufacture.  Mossing can create ever-worsening plate shorting paths.

    Still,   there are many variables in the battery manufacturing process.  It is quite possible that batteries with one or more bad cells really have some bad cells,  some almost bad,   and the rest about to become almost bad,   and so on.

    If one can,  use batteries as they were intended to be used,   and discard them when they no longer do the job that is needed,  OR one simply runs out of ALL of the time that is required to diddle with batteries that are really beyond End-Of-Life.

    IMO,   Good Luck,   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.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    softdown said:
    Rarely the one to keep things simple, I don't think I have seen an entire battery go bad. It is always a bad cell, maybe two.
    All flooded lead acid batteries are 2 volts. Because we call strings of these 2 volt batteries, made conveniently into strings in a plastic case, a "battery" is just nomenclature. A 6 volt battery is a string of 3 batteries in a plastic box.  A 12 volt, a string of 6...

    Some batteries are still sold dry. I know locally, flooded motorcycle batteries are typically filled at the retailer level at battery and auto parts stores..

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭✭

    OH,  yea,  the Dry Battery thing,

    Some battery manufacturers still offer Dry batteries  --  Surrette,  for example.   One "just" adds electrolyte of the proper concentration,  and then Activates it.

    This IS normally done by a battery dealer,  and not the retail customer.

    Dry batteries DO have a finite life.  Although Surrette,  in their Activation instructions does mention,   that  even a dry battery that has been stored for a long period of time can still be Activated,  just that it might take a long time to do so.   Surrette used to say that one of their dry batteries had a shelf life of about 5 years (depending on storage temperatures and humidity).    Think that they are now a bit less optimistic about shelf life.

    As a Warranty cell replacement,   Surrette was kind enough to send a dry cell,  to replace one cell in a 4 V battery that had been damaged in shipment (the weld at the top of the Jar broke on one side in its ROUGH truck ride to CA from NS ...   had glued that Jar top in the interim,  and that dry cell still sits on its pallet,  waiting for Activation.   That glued cell still seems OK, but its SG is about 5 points lower than the average of the other cells in that bank ...   FWIW,   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.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,796 ✭✭✭✭
    A dry battery is, more or less, nothing more than specially configured lead plates and connective bars. Perhaps something happens on the surface over time...oxidation etc. There should be some chemical or procedure that would remove whatever evil has grown on the lead plates.

    I am occasionally amazed at Mother Nature's reclamation programs. Almost everything gets reclaimed if given enough time. Except for Roman bridges of course.

    Reminds me of expiration dates. Seems like everything has an expiration date between 18 months and 36 months. Interesting to see, for example, "authentic Himalayan Sea Salt" that is "5 million years old". Labeled with an 18 month expiration date.

    Raw materials like calcium, lead, iron, sodium, magnesium, gold, aluminum etc. They should last more than five years. Considering they are millions of years old, (sorry but I studied anthropology and geology).
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #8

    IMO,   deep cycle Dry Charged batteries are exactly the same construction as ones shipped wet,  with electrolyte.   At least for those that need electrolyte added.

      I know nothing of dry batteries that only need Distilled Water added,  to be usable.

    Somewhere,  have read that Surrette manufacturers the dry charged batteries exactly the same as those that are shipped wet.  But,  after Forming the plates,   the plates are rinsed in Distilled Water,   allowed to drain,   cells capped with an unvented cap,   packed,   and shipped ...   but do not know,  at this point, from where that came.

    The Surrette, Detailed Instructions for Activation of Dry Charged Batteries says under ideal conditions a Dry Charged battery has a shelf life of several years,   and that all that happens with a dry battery that is beyond useable shelf life,  is that the negative plate reverts to Lead Oxide,   and may take longer to Activate,  than a battery that is not beyond that shelf life:
    http://support.rollsbattery.com/support/solutions/articles/427-activating-instructions-dry-charged-batteries-detailed-

    Not to pick too many nits.      Will Activate that one cell stored here,  some day or three when there is time available ...  All  IMO,   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.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,044 ✭✭✭✭
    I use to fill and charge motorcycle batteries, they said they were filled with nitrogen to prevent oxydation. Makes sense to me... Likely others are done similarly.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,796 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #10
    Seems like draining 1/2 the electrolyte and replacing with distilled water would help with prolonged shelf life. Also seems like nothing can be done with AGM's and Gel's. Other than keeping them cool.

    If one could keep batteries very cool, that would lower the SG and likely help lower corrosion. Canadians could just store them in the local glacier.

    I think about ideas....not everybody's cup of tea.

    I love Canada. Here is classic Canadian barbarism:
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 291 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #11
    The battery negative plates are a lead alloy grid, covered in a paste, which is then temporally placed in a plastic case. The cases are then loaded into baskets and loaded in a dry charge machine, which dries the plates in a nitrogen rich atmosphere. That is how the plates are dry charged. I used to work for a company designing, manufacturing and supplying the equipment to most of the major company’s you are all familiar with. Kept dry, the dry charged plates can remain active for many years. The battery plates are not fully formed out until they are placed in the battery case, filled with electrolyte and put on the charge station.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,796 ✭✭✭✭
    Awesome post Aguarancher. I suspect that ~99% of the batteries are the lead calcium type. Not highly refined either. The calcium lowers the water usage and the self discharge rate. High performance batteries may be pure lead and that tends to come with more water usage and a higher self discharge rate. Forklift batteries are notorious for these traits.

    I'm no chemist but I do suspect that pure lead batteries would be much more robust, and longer lasting, than lead/calcium batteries.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi Aquarancher,

    Thanks for the added detail of how those Dry Charged batteries were made.

    Think that almost all Auto batteries are Lead-Calcium,   as are many GC2s,   and perhaps a number of others.

    Have only run Lead Antinomy batteries,   which do consume more water than Lead Calcium batteries,   but am looking for good gassing qualities which Lead Antinomy provides.   They are less efficient,   but,  still they seem to work well for our off-grid applications.

    FWIW,   I am no battery expert.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.
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