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This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum.  Completing this BB is part of getting the sand badge in Electricity.

In this Badge Bit, you will perform maintenance on at least three lead acid batteries.



Some related articles
  - Basics of Watering Your Lead Acid Battery
  - How to Use a Battery Hydrometer to read specific gravity
  - How to Clean Battery Terminals
  - How to Use a Multimeter to Test Lead Acid Batteries









To complete this BB, the minimum requirements are:
Lead Acid Battery maintenance on at least three batteries
  - add distilled water if needed
  - clean posts if needed
  - test if battery is holding a charge
  - not AGM batteries

To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide:

   - a picture of the initial water level of all the cells
   - two more pictures of the worst cell:
         o an action picture of you adding distilled water to that cell
         o a picture of the cell with a proper water level
   - demonstration and explanation of the state of charge of each battery
          (measuring voltage with a multi-meter or with hydrometer)
   - one of the following:
         o if at least one post needs cleaning
               - a picture of a dirty post
               - an action shot of the post being cleaned
               - a picture of the post with clamp, cleaned and ready for action
         o all six posts are perfectly clean
               - a picture of all six posts
               - pictures of the tools you would use to clean the posts (including wrenches)
   - OR a two minute (or less) video of you doing all of this


COMMENTS:
 
steward
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Approved BB submission
I did this at the 2019 PEP1 event at Wheaton Labs on the electric tractor.  It had eight 6 volt batteries so there were plenty to work on.  The posts weren't corroded so I didn't remove the clamps and clean them.  The batteries all tested around the 6.30 volt range which is around 80% charged (ok, not great).  Two cells were a bit low on liquid so I added distilled water with a special turkey baster.  I used the specific gravity tester and the cells all read "fine".  That seems to be the same thing as measuring the voltage so I'm not sure what the purpose is.

I'd propose that the requirements of this BB be simplified to:
Lead Acid Battery maintenance on at least three batteries
 - add distilled water if needed
 - hydrometer test or voltage test
 - clean posts if needed

To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide:
  - description of the batteries, how many cells they had and which maintenance activities were needed
  - an action picture of you adding distilled water if it was needed
  - an action picture of the hydrometer readings on a cell or of the multi-meter measuring the voltage
  - a before and after picture of cleaning a corroded post if it was needed
  - OR a two minute video of you doing this
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Stuff I started with
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Under the hood
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Checking voltage with multimeter
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No corrosion here
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Measuring specific gravity
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Measuring specific gravity again
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Measuring specific gravity again
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Adding distilled water
Staff note (paul wheaton) :

I certify that this BB is complete.

 
master steward
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I updated the requirements.

I always used the hydrometer to test to see if there is enough acid.  There are ways for the acid to get out - and a problem with a battery could be a lack of acid.  

 
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Approved BB submission
For this BB I've chosen the two solar batteries and the starting battery from our 1968 D500. All the tools and supplies are here:



The first step was to disconnect all the wiring and remove the caps.



The truck battery sits in our basement awaiting snow melt so it's already disconnected.



The electrolyte levels of all three batteries:







Only one cell proved to be low during inspection, it was about 1/8″ below its neighbors.



I used distilled water and a funnel to add water, bringing it up to level.



Cell after filling:



I then checked all the batteries for voltage. Each cell should have 2.1 volts at full charge, or 12.6 volts for a common 12 volt lead acid battery. The two solar batteries are beginning to lose some capacity but the truck battery appears healthy.







Now it’s time to clean the connections. They were pretty oxidized where no cable was attached.



Using a terminal cleaner to remove oxidation.



Terminals nice and clean.



I can't forget the bolt down attachments.



Dielectric grease helps prevent future corrosion.



All battery terminals clean.





Hooking up the terminals to the clean connections. Our system uses eyelets.



This is basic battery maintenance required on batteries. Electrolyte levels should be checked monthly, minimum. I clean battery cables every change of season or if I notice any hindrance in their performance.

The complete write up of this how to can be seen on this blog post. Battery maintenance

Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I hereby certify this BB complete!

Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

I reviewed Erik's BB's & certify his electricity sand badge complete!!!

 
Posts: 19
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Just did this today at work, our trucks have 4 AGM batteries so there is no electrolytes or water level to check,
Just terminals to clean.
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Staff note :

Unfortunately this BB is specifically for lead acid batteries . Your submission would likely be worth points in Homesteading Oddball or the Oddball thread.

 
Randy Fox
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Approved BB submission
AGM is a lead acid battery. Its six cells use an Absorbant Glass Mat (AGM) to hold the acid and allows the battery to perform better then flooded cell batteries.
Checking electrolyte, and fluid level are not necessary. The AGM battery requires less maintenance, but its still fundamentally a LEAD ACID battery.  
Terminal post connections should be cleaned annualy, or as needed. A yellow corrosion prevention, is sprayed on the post to make anual cleaning seem redundant.
Voltage is checked with a multimeter. If the voltage read 12.2v or less a top off charge would be required.
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Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify this BB complete!

 
Mike Haasl
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Hi Randy, thanks for the clarification about AGM being Lead Acid.  I'll approve it and we'll see if Paul wants to amend the BB moving forward or leave it as is.  
 
paul wheaton
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Mike Haasl wrote:Hi Randy, thanks for the clarification about AGM being Lead Acid.  I'll approve it and we'll see if Paul wants to amend the BB moving forward or leave it as is.  



To qualify for the BB, the first requirement is "a picture of the initial water level of all the cells".  There is not water level in AGM, so AGM won't work for this BB.  

So maybe we need to change the wording on this BB ...    I think that for every AGM battery, there are about 30 flooded lead acid batteries.  Further, we don't normally call AGM "lead acid batteries" - we call them AGM batteries.    So I think the wording is okay.

I do think it is possible that we could add a BB for AGM battery maintenance.




 
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Approved BB submission
I built a 24V solar system to learn the process and I bought 4 used 6V batteries so that if I made any mistakes it would minimize the cost of learning the hard way. My solar setup is programmed to run an equalizing charge every 30 days at 30.6V, and I check the water levels after that has finished. Its been almost 2 years since building the system and the terminals are in great shape and haven't needed any cleaning so far. The batteries are in a very protected space and this area if pretty low humidity most of the year. Using a multimeter set to 20V I test each battery at the terminals for voltage level. Sorry about the glare, the picture shows 6.54 volts, and the voltage varied between 6.54V and 6.56V between the 4 batteries. These batteries are about 5 years old now, but since I bought them the average daily load is small, and I haven't seen a drop off in overall voltage.

I remove the caps and check the water levels of each 2V cell. There is about 1" between the top of the plates and the bottom of the opening, with slits up the side of the opening to allow bubbles by, so my goal is to fill each cell so the water is touching the bottom of the opening "collar" without getting all the way to the top and blocking that slit (sorry again for the picture glare). On this battery the top and middle cells are low, while the bottom cell water level is touching. I then fill each cell needing water with the bottle, which is slow but ensures the water fills to just the right depth and minimizes the chance of spilling. The caps are replaced and we're all set until next month.

Edit: Sorry, I forgot to explain the state of charge- a 6V battery is considered fully charged at 6.37V. Since the panels are charging the voltage is higher (I normally do this at night). The charge controller logs daily high and low voltage, and each night the system voltage drops to 24.6V, which is about 65% charge for a 24V system.
24V-Battery-Setup.jpg
24V Battery Layout
24V Battery Layout
Supplies.jpg
Supplies for Power Farming
Supplies for Power Farming
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Thirsty Cells in Need of Water!
Thirsty Cells in Need of Water!
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Watering the Cells
Watering the Cells
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Cells Freshly Watered - Will Grow Big and Strong!
Cells Freshly Watered - Will Grow Big and Strong!
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Checking each battery gets its share of solar goodness
Checking each battery gets its share of solar goodness
Staff note (gir bot) :

Mike Haasl approved this submission.

 
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Approved BB submission
Here is my submission for the Electricity - Sand - Lead Acid Battery Maintenance BB.

commentary and the minimum requirements: complete lead-acid battery maintenance on at least three four batteries.  They are stored in the "Dome Shed" and are connected to solar panels.
  - added distilled water to three cells
  - clean posts if needed - posts are clean but the 4 bolts needed cleaning
  - test if the battery is holding a charge using a multimeter - Yes  :)

To document the completion of the BB, I have provided a video:
  + a photo of the Dome Shed (looking south)
  + a photo of the batteries in the southwest corner of the shed
   - a picture video of the initial water level of all the cells
   - two more pictures of the worst cell:
         + photo of worst cell - it needed 7-8 "shot glasses" to top it up
         o an action picture of you adding distilled water to that cell
         o a picture of the cell with a proper water level (video of all cells with commentary noting which cells I refilled)
   - demonstration and explanation of the state of charge of each battery using a multimeter
   - one of the following:
         o three posts/bolts needed cleaning
               - a picture of a dirty post/bolt
               - an action shot of the post/bolt being cleaned
               - a picture of the post/bolt with clamp, cleaned and ready for action
       
Charge and initial cell water level:
Battery 1:  6.79 middle cell was low
Battery 2:  6.86
Battery 3:  6.72
Battery 4:  6.69 middle and bottom cells were low

Staff note (gir bot) :

Someone flagged this submission as not complete.
BBV price: 1
Note: Video needs to be 2 minutes. Please include an "after" view showing all termials at once. It's hard to tell if they're all clean or not.

Staff note (gir bot) :

Mike Barkley approved this submission.

 
Opalyn Rose
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Mike,
Thanks for the safety information.  I didn't see this task as particularly dangerous but it could have been.  I appreciate the reminder and operated as my own risk assessment which might encourage someone else to do so too and that could be bad.  

I have two questions for the PEP/SKIP team.

the documentation says:
- one of the following:
        o if at least one post needs cleaning
              - a picture of a dirty post
              - an action shot of the post being cleaned
              - a picture of the post with clamp, cleaned and ready for action
        o all six posts are perfectly clean
              - a picture of all six posts
              - pictures of the tools you would use to clean the posts (including wrenches)
first question: I interpreted that I needed to do one of the circle items - not both.  I cleaned several posts/bolts and included documentation.  Do I also need to show that all terminals are clean after I cleaned some of them?  
second question: I missed that the requirement says 2 min video.  I skipped over the specificity as I'm used to the requirement being 2 minutes or less and I've heard Paul say videos of 2 minutes or less in several PEP/SKIP podcasts.  Do you want me to expand my video to two minutes or are you up for editing the requirements?  I chose to produce a video because I was having a hard time capturing the cell water level in a single image.
Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

After looking at the requirements again you're right on both counts. The video clearly shows at least one post being cleaned. I'll edit the time requirement for the video to match all the other BBs.

 
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