Helpful Tips and Stuff We’ve Learned Living Off Grid
With summer sun and higher temperatures comes increased gassing of your flooded lead acid batteries. It’s time to do a little battery maintenance.
Here’s our recommendation for battery maintenance. First, make sure that your batteries are fully charged. Remember, as the charge of a battery goes down, so does the electrolyte level. The plates within the cells absorb the electrolyte as the battery is discharged. So a fully charged battery will be at its highest electrolyte level. This is important only because adding water to a discharged battery ends up with water overflowing out the cap when the battery gets fully charged. Not only do you end up with an acid spill, but also your battery is losing valuable electrolytes.
When it comes to adding distilled water there are numerous devices and watering cans to do the job. And what a job it can be. With three to six cells per battery, a large battery bank can have 48 cells and use 5 gallons of water. So here’s the cool tip we learned through experience. We buy the large 2.5-gallon containers of distilled water and use a 6-foot length of 3/8″ clear plastic tube. Punch a hole in the top of the water container and set it above the battery bank. Place the tube in the water and using the good old siphoning trick, get the water flow started. Just pinch off the water flow as you work your way around to each battery cell. If a little water gets on the top of the batteries it’s ok. Just prevent foreign objects from getting in the cells. This technique works especially well because the tube can get into and around objects like battery cables and get to the hard to reach back cells. After all the cells have been filled, replace the caps and wash the tops of the batteries with a very mild soap solution and an old rag. Do not use baking soda. If the soda gets into the cells it will destroy your electrolyte.