OT - Battery care for winter or storage


This winter I'd like to try to keep my batteries in good condition if
possible. I've got a zero turn mower, tractor, truck, backhoe, marine
batteries for the boat, I've counted 8 lead acid batteries to maintain in
all. My goal is to keep everything charged to be ready when I need it and
have my batteries to still be good next year when I need to mow again.
Possibilities are on-board automatic chargers or perhaps use weatherproof
connectors and running cables to a cabinet with chargers. Not sure if I
should run 120V to each vehicle for an on board charger or run the chargers
in a cabinet and run 12V charge leads to each battery. Just wondering if
any here have recommendations or good/bad experiences with such?
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
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I pull the batteries on all my seasonal use engines. Clean and put on a board in the basement. Twice during winter, give them a tickle charge till the auto charge light goes out.
Werks grate!
Karl
Reply to
Karl Townsend
\ \How cold does it get at your location? \ \How many sunny days do you have at your location? \ \TMT \
I'm not far from St Louis, it's warmer than Chicago but it's not unusual to get a few 4WD snow days a year. That's the problem I had last year, my 1 ton 4WD truck doesn't get driven much unless I have to haul something or need the 4WD. We had a snow day and I needed to take the truck and had to charge the trucks (F350 diesel with 2 batteries) for a couple of hours before it would start. This year I'm wanting to keep the truck ready to go plus try to keep the seasonal batteries in shape for next year. I already have a few bad batteries but I'd like to have automatic charging working before buying new batteries. The backhoe is handy year around but only using it every couple of months keeps the batteries dying.
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
That would be great on the mower. I occasionally use the 4WD truck and the tractor with front end loader during the winter but a freezing engine seems to take a good charge to get running. I like the idea of sealed automatic marine chargers myself but they seem to be on the expensive side. That is probably the main reason I'm considering an enclosure for chargers and running cords for the charging. I'm hoping extended leads will work OK with low current maintenance charging.
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
My SOP on winter machine that are a bit old: Hook up engine block heater wait 30 minutes Hook up large charger, set to 40 amp. Put in starting ether. Hit glow plug heater. Starts right up even at -40.
Now, i did have an old car that wouldn't start at -50 with this treatment. So, I lifted car with floor jack and stuck the 500,000 BTU knipco under. 20 minutes later i was on my way.
Karl
Reply to
Karl Townsend
For your 4WD you might want to look into the small solar panels that sit on the dash board, and plug into the lighter socket to trickle charge the batteries.
For your loader, getting a block heater and removing the battery to the garage might be a good idea. Also I presume the loader has a diesel engine, so some winter fuel treatment to keep the fuel from gelling might be a good idea.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf
Sounds like your SOP ought to work well. My truck has a block heater, I'm not sure if it's on all the time it's plugged in or if it has a thermostat. Most days I take my ~ 35MPG car and only take a truck if I need to haul something or it's bad weather needing the 4X4 (sometimes not even once a year). Usually the problem is that I wake up and find out if I need the truck or not. The last time that happened, the truck didn't have enough charge in the batteries to get it started, I plugged in the block heater and the charger, got it started a couple hours later. This year I hope to improve the situation by keeping the batteries charged and turning on the block heater if snow/ice is in the forecast.
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
Guy I used to work with in the late sixties had a 60 Corvair that lived in a corn-crib for the winter - and he drove it to work every morning. HIS sop was get out of bed, turn on the coffee, go out and pull the steel fence stake wrapped in burlap and chichen wire out of the barrel of used oil and deisel fuel, shoot a bit of ether at it, light it and stick it under the back of the Corvair. Go in, drink the coffee, eat brakfast, come out and start the Corvair to go to work.
The back end of that beast was a mess of black oily soot, but he never missed a day of work.
Never burned the darn thing either. Never could figure THAT one out.
Reply to
clare
Friend's big White Field Boss generally didn't need to be started in the winter - had the blower on a smaller tractor - but after a big storm sometimes he'd need the boss - or if the hydro went out he's hook the "boss" to the Winco. To start it cold, he'd pull the air intake off and lay a Bernzomatic torch in the manifold for a few minutes, then crank it over, and away it would go, every time. Sure saved running the glow plugs and wearing the battery down. When the hydro's off you don't have the option of the block heater or the battery charger.
Reply to
clare
/ /Okay...much more adverse environment than we have here in southern CA. / /Anything that NEEDS to run during the winter should have a trickle /charger and engine heater. / /Anything else you can charge on a regular basis...just keep the charge /topped off or the batteries will freeze. / /Be careful enclosing any charger...they do need ventilaton. I came /very close to burning a van up by closing the hood on the van with a /charger inside...I caught it as it was smoking. / /It is better to run a 110v extension cord than to run long 12v /lines...low voltage lines drop too much voltage and give the charger /an errorous indication as to its charge. / /A comment on trickle chargers...I have had several batteries killed by /chargers that overcharged the batteries. / /Also in my experience smart chargers are not so smart...I have seen /them not charge batteries or overcharge them....always watch them. / /TMT
I've also been disappointed with some of the smart chargers and that is at least part of the reason for my post here, thought maybe someone here found one to recommend. I'm not sure I understand the difficulty a "Smart" charger would have with batteries. Seems my auto voltage regulators keep my batteries happy for years on the car I drive daily. So, maybe if I had a charger that automatically started charging when the power was on, I could set a time to charge the battery for maybe an hour a day, to simulate driving the car an hour a day.
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
I have 19 vehicle batteries to deal with here in west central Wisconson. We see temps as low as 30 below sometimes. An average winter used to have at least one week where the temp never gets above 0°F. The weather here had been milder than normal until they announced global warming, but now it is colder.
I don't take any of my batterie out of the vehicles in the winter and all of them are stored in cold buildings.
I bought 2 harbor freight tiny trickle chargers 8 or 10 years ago to keep them topped off. It is part number: 42292-0VGA and right now they are on sale for $5.99.
In about November, I put these chargers on for a day or two, then move to the next two vehicles, etc, etc, etc..
Then I do it again in about January or February.
I measure the voltage of each battery before I attach the charger. Actually I go around to all of them and do a sorta triage thing. The worst battery gets recharged first.
About one day after I take the charger off, I remeasure the voltage. With the chargers I use, I should see about 13.02 to 13.07 volts right away and at least 12.60 volts the next day.
If a battery doesn't do these things, it is scheduled for replacement next spring.
I have a spreadsheet for each winter season where I write down all these numbers, so I can see each battery's progress toward replacement as the years go by.
Sometimes I leave the little chargers on for several days with no ill effects.
This system satisfies my needs well.
Next to Last comment: Some of your vehicles probably draw current for various accessories even when the key is off. Some draw more than others. I would have a digital meter and use it to determine how much that is. One thing you can do is to add a little high current switch right at the battery terminals. You simply reach under the hood and open it when you don't want to use the vehicle.
Here are two of them that Harbor Frieght has: 92688-0VGA $4.99
66789-0VGA $7.99 .
A good lead-acid battery isn't going to be negatively affected by leaving it out in the cold, as long as it is fully charged. You will hear comments the contrary, but I defy anyone to prove it with statistically sound data.
Last comment: If your vehicles start well and quickly, then the water level in your "low maintenance" batteries may never be an issue, but if one is hard starting, then the constant cycling needed to recharge it will probably cause it to get low on water long before its time. You may think your batteries just don't last long, when indeed, they are getting weak from lack of water. If a weak battery seems to recharge quite quickly, that may be a sign that it needs distilled water. I only have one occasional use vehicle that fits this criteria. Don't ask my why I don't do something about it. I did put a toggle switch on the new radio whose orange light stays on all the time. Anyway, just last week the battery did go down, (forgot to throw the radio switch) so I tore the sticky label off the top of the battery and found the fill ports. They are just little hard rubber plugs that took some doing to get off. The water level was 'way below the plates. I refilled it and recharged it. We will see how it's data looks after this winter.
Pete Stanaitis -----------------------------------------------------------
RogerN wrote:
Reply to
spaco
Pete,
Reconsider the battery shut-off switch on any vehicle that has a computer to run the engine.
Disconnecting the battery will cause the computer to lose engine settings.
And THAT can cause all kinds of wild problems when you hook it back up.
Reply to
cavelamb
Your location doesn't seem to inhibit you from dispensing advice for those in colder climates.
I don't do that with my boat batteries and I've never had a battery freeze during my 40 years in Minnesota.
Correct.
Good chargers are the key to battery longevity. They are not cheap, but they're very good value in the long run. Overcharging is death on lead-acid batteries.
Reply to
Don Foreman
/ / /Smart chargers are based on a chip that have the lead acid charge/ /decay curves telling it how to act. I suspect it monitors the voltage /of the battery and if that info is faulty then the charger works /erractically. / /I too am a believer in settng chargers up on a timer. / /How long to charge? Good question. I just do it a hour a day with 2 /amp chargers and it seems to work. YMMV / /TMT
That gives me an idea, if I use a 2 amp charger that starts when connected, wired the output through relays and use a spare PLC, I can use one charger and automatically switch it to each battery for 1 hour a day. I can separate the long runs and run 120VAC to an on board charger.
RogerN
Reply to
RogerN
I use a simpler version of Spaco's method, minus the spreadsheet. On the first weekend of each (or every other, I sometimes forget) month I top up rechargeable batteries in flashlights, remotes, clocks, drills, jump starters and unused vehicles. For lead-acids I have one 2A/10A smart charger, one import trickle charger and otherwise homebrews and lab supplies that don't shut off automatically, but since I'm working the rounds they won't be forgotten and left on to damage the battery. The raised hood is a good reminder.
The homebrews can put out enough voltage to equalize the cells of an old battery and considerably extend its useful life. They have analog current meters to help set the output current, and I use the $4 HF DVMs to watch the voltage.
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has a chart of the open circuit voltage reading vs state of charge over temperature. A battery that won't charge to 100% is getting old or needs attention.
jsw
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Do you mean that if you were to replace the battery in your car, it wouldn't run? Or do you mean you'd loose error codes?
If I take my car in for service and they do certain kinds of work, it comes back with the radio stations lost, but the engine runs fine. Do they put the engine settings back?
If the alternative was a dead battery, then what's the difference?
Another point about what causes batteries to discharge when not in use: I have heard that some cars have "cathodic protection systems" to, I guess, minimize rusting. That must take a fair amount of current, too.
Pete Stanaitis -------------------
cavelamb wrote: > Pete, > > Reconsider the battery shut-off switch on any vehicle that has a computer > to run the engine. > > Disconnecting the battery will cause the computer to lose engine settings. > > And THAT can cause all kinds of wild problems when you hook it back up.
Reply to
spaco
What has been your experience with these "small solar panels"?
Pete Stanaitis ---------------------
Roger Shoaf wrote:
Reply to
spaco
An alternative to 2 Amps for 1 hour per day is 80mA all the time, although 25mA - 50mA might be enough. You can make a constant-current source with a few transistor/resistor/diode parts powered by a 16-20V wall-wart. Some circuit variations are shown in following refs. For fixed font, click More Options, Show original.
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side, PNP (eg 2N3906), w LED voltage ref and indicator. Choose R1 between 100 ohms and 100K ohms so that LED brightness is adequate and there's at least 100 uA (microamps) to spare to drive the base of the transistor. Choose R2 = Rs = sense resistor to satisfy Rs * Im + Vbe = Vled, where Im = desired current, Vbe = typical Vbe drop ~ .7V, Vled = LED voltage ~ 1.6V. Eg, for 50mA, Rs * .05 + .7 = 1.6 --> Rs = 18 ohms. Attach battery to be charged between "Out" and ground. With supply voltage Vs and charge voltage Vx, there will be Vs - Vx volts across R2 and Q1; eg, if Vs=20, Rs=18, Vbe=1.6, Im=.05, and Vx=13.6, then V(R2) = 18*.05 = .9V, so Vce=20-0.9-13.6 =5.5V. So 275mW is dissipated in transistor with Vs = 20V; it would be better to use Vs = 16V, giving Vce=1.5V and power = 75mW.
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side, NPN, w LED. Use 2N2222, 2N3904, or similar. If supply voltage Vs is fixed and reasonably stiff, one can also use a resistive divider: Put R2 = 100K in place of the 150 ohm resistor and R1 = 5K-9K in place of the LED. Eg, with Vs=20VDC, R1=5.6K, and max current = Im = 60mA, sense resistor Rs = 4.7 ohm = ((Vs*R1/(R1+R2))-Vbe)/Im. One can also put a 5K trimpot in place of R1, to make the constant current adjustable from 0mA up to about 40mA. However, with a 10K pot, max current would be about 210mA (which is over the 200mA absolute maximum rating of 2N2222 and 2N3904 transistors) unless you increase R2 to say 102K. :)
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side, NPN, as drawn uses one transistor and one resistor per additional CCS. Advantages of diode voltage-ref over resistor divider ref: Temperature compensation, if diode and transistor junction temps are the same; and less dependence on exact value of Vs.
Reply to
James Waldby

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