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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 video of you doing all of this


COMMENTS:
 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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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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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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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.  

 
Posts: 32
Location: Hemingford Nebraska
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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
Location: Joint Base MDL, New Jersey
12
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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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Location: Joint Base MDL, New Jersey
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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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