How to PROPERLY Recover and Recondition a Sulfated Battery

today I'm going to show you how you can recondition and restore an old let us a battery that no longer functions properly and hopefully keep some of these in your pocket now there are many ways that a battery can fail and many of those ways are catastrophic or unrecoverable however I'm talking about a specific failure mechanism one that usually occurs after battery has been stored for a long period of time or has been not properly maintained and you may find one of three symptoms or any combination of them one you may find that the battery doesn't accept a charge very well from your charger your charger may even refuse to charge it if it's a smart charger to it you may find that your battery doesn't have the amperage capacity that you think it should for example a trolling motor may not run with the amount of power that you think it should have or three the battery may not last as long as you think that it should it may go dead very soon after you start using it in many cases these batteries are recoverable with a little bit of reconditioning I'm going to show you how to do that I'm going to demonstrate that technique on this battery here it's a good candidate because this particular battery if I wanted to purchase a new one would cost me about four hundred and fifty dollars plus shipping because I can't get them locally it's a very expensive battery and I would like to see if I can recover this one it has been stored and unused for four years and it has a dead cell and I'm going to try this method on it it may or may not work this battery is heavily sulfated but I'm going to give it a try and we can at least demonstrate on this battery if you have a battery that's more like this a standard automotive battery you can diesel e do the same procedure on this one however these batteries are pretty cheap you can get something like this for sixty bucks your time may be better spent just buying a new battery however it's up to you after all I'd rather have 60 bucks in my pocket than at the auto store now there are a lot of different battery failure modes a lot of different battery chemistry's and a lot of different battery constructions and this leads to a lot of different permutations there are literally thousands of different kinds of batteries out there and each one requires a slightly different approach to optimally recovered however what I'm going to show you here is a generic approach that will work on just about any battery and work pretty well they'll simplify things and allow you to use just one approach for every application now this conversation wouldn't be complete without mentioning that there are two major classifications of other approaches out there for solving this problem and they are basically get-rich-quick schemes they don't work they sound good people like to believe them but there's nothing behind them one is adding things to the batteries you might hear people saying put an aspirin in each cell or add Epsom salt believe me if the battery manufacturers could benefit by adding Epsom salt they would do that they don't and they don't forgive easy the second method is pulse charging there are a lot of places out there on the internet advocating pulse charging well let me tell you pulse charging does not work so yeah go ahead and put your hate comments below but it doesn't work pulse charging is simply an inferior method of properly reconditioning a battery now there is a US patent out there on pulse charging but let me give you a little secret here you can patent just about anything it doesn't have to work so this is the battery that I'm going to demonstrate this procedure on and I have my multimeter on the leads and you can see that the voltage is ten point one two volts it is obviously bad it has a bad cell I have tried to charge it on standard charger and it refuses to accept a charge now if this battery has the problem that I believe it does have its non recoverable it's permanently destroyed but I'm going to give it a try anyway I don't want to give up on it yet and this seems like a good opportunity to demonstrate this procedure so the first thing that you need to do is grab your battery charger and I don't mean in charger like this this is a microprocessor controlled charger and thinks it's smarter than you are I'm not going to comment on that but this kind of charger is not going to work now the literature even says that this charger will D sulfate batteries but it doesn't these will never do what you really need to do to D sulfate a battery what you need is a charger like this this is just a standard old traditional dumb charger now you can use the style that comes on wheels or something like this a little handheld one this happens to be six amp charger and this works just great for this application all it is is a transformer and a rectifier and that's exactly what you need something that has no smarts in it whatsoever the reason that these Chargers work so well for this application is because they overcharge batteries they are notorious for that which is why smart charges have become the norm but in this case overcharging your battery is exactly what we want to do so I'll show you how to hook this up to your battery and this is how you want to hook it up the battery charger output should go through about a 2 ohm resistor I happen to have this 2 over resistor here that I'm running it through through this alligator clip up to my battery one terminal goes directly to the battery the other one goes through this resistor and then back up to the battery now I'm sure a lot of you don't just happen to have big 2 ohm resistors laying around and if you don't you can hook your charger directly up to your battery that will boil off a lot of the electrolyte inside however if it's a standard flooded battery you can just pop the caps off and refill them so that's not really a problem in this case it's an AGM battery it's sealed I can't get to the electrolyte so I want to preserve as much of it as I can now if you have a sealed battery that you can't service and you don't have a resistor go ahead and just hook the charger up to it I mean what are you going to lose right the battery is already bad but I have this so I'm going to put it in circuit so this is how you hook it up and now we'll turn the charger on and then plug the charger in so it should be going but this meter here isn't very accurate so for the purposes of demonstration I put this client meter on the circuit to see how much current is going into the battery and we have almost zero current about 0.1 amps going into our battery and that's pretty typical of a sulfated battery this particular battery I'm pretty sure has a bad cell one that has been reformed in the opposite polarity that it should be I'm not going to go into details on that but I have my doubts that it's recoverable we're going to give it a try now what you'll see on most batteries that have sulfation problems like this one does is that the current will start out at a very low level particularly if you have a lead calcium battery it will start out at a very very low level and won't accept charge however if you keep it on the set up for a day or two or maybe three weeks this current will slowly creep up and it should go up to an amp maybe even two amps and then fall after a while again now I don't know if this battery is recoverable or not but I'm going to leave it on this set up and see what happens now if you don't happen to have a resistor laying around you can also use something like this standard automotive light that will work just fine also as a current limiting device but regardless the first step is to hook your battery up to one of these old standard dumb chargers and wait step two is to monitor the charge current eventually this current will start creeping its way up to one or two amps and when it does start creeping up make sure to keep track of the electrolyte level in your battery don't fill it all the way but make sure that the plates are fully covered as some of that will boil away during this process and it may take up to a month for this current to start rising and stabilize if it takes more than a month turn your battery in for a quart charge it's not coming back step three is to wait until the charge current stabilizes at whatever current it stabilizes at and might be one two three four amps depending how you have your charge set up and once it stabilizes leave it on the charger for an additional 48 hours and then disconnect the charger so I'll disconnect the charger from the battery and step four is to wait 24 hours with the battery disconnected and open circuit and then take your digital multimeter whichever kind you have this is just a $3 meter from Harbor Freight and check the battery the voltage level of your battery now I have not had this connected long enough to this battery just one day so it hasn't recovered yet but after 24 hours of being disconnected this voltage should still be at 12 and a half volts or above if it is not then hook your charger back up and wait 48 hours more and repeat eventually the battery should hold a 12 and a half volt or better level after sitting for 24 hours disconnected if you repeat this process for a week or two and it never never maintains a 12 and a half volt level then turn your battery in for a core charge it's not going to be coming back after you have completed step 4 and verified that your battery does hold a voltage you can set this setup aside you won't be needing that old charger anymore and it's time to move on to step 5 now I want to mention what we have actually done in step 4 leading up to this what we've done is that we've made sure that the bad cell or bad cells in this battery are desolated to the extent that they are now able to pass current this battery is not yet restored however we can move on to step 5 and step 5 is cycling the battery now the reason that cycling a battery like this is necessary is because the majority of that sulfation is irreversible you will never get it back the only way to get it back is to reprocess the lead and get a new battery so we have to work around that and cycling the battery makes the plates inside expand and contract every time it cycled and this does two things for you one in a flooded battery a lot of that sulfated material falls to the bottom of the cell and exposes good lead or in a battery like this where it can't migrate the expansion contraction causes that outer exterior that's so painted to crack and allow the current to go in to the plates inside the battery so you do need to cycle a battery to get its full capacity back now there's a couple different ways you can do that if this is a battery in your car you can just turn the headlights on that will cycle the battery on this battery I'm going to use a different approach I have here a little 400 watt power inverter you can think these up for 30 bucks or so just about anywhere and I'm going to use this slowed it down now what you want to do when you cycle this battery is to put it under approximately a 20 amp load and you can use anything you want for a load you can use a fan or just look at the nameplate and see how many watts it draws I can look at the nameplate on these light bulbs because that's easy and I'm just going to put on 200 watts of light bulbs onto my inverter here and what you want to do is time how long it takes for the battery voltage at these terminals to fall to 11 volts and write that value down so hook my inverter up positive to positive negative to negative plug in my 200 Watts worth of incandescent light bulbs because 200 watts is about 20 amps which is about what we want the exact number isn't all that critical but 20 amps is a good number and turn it on and then take whatever device you have and time it with your multimeter check at the battery terminals and see how long it takes for the battery voltage to drop to 11 point zero volts now the odds are the first time you do this the battery won't last very long don't worry that's normal so just take your charger whatever charger you choose to use to normally charge batteries and hook that up to your battery and give it a full charge let it wait overnight or so and repeat the process during the battery again at approximately 20 amps and write down how long it takes for the voltage at these terminals to drop to 11 volts what you should see if this battery is recovering is that every time you do this the time will increase and you'll get more and more capacity out of this battery every time at some point after five cycles or so the capacity will stop increasing or will increase at a very low rate at that point you're done you can take your battery out of the setup put it back into service and it should give you a little bit more life it will never again be like it was when it was new this does not recover anything fully it's impossible to do that but it does make it serviceable once again and there you have it those are the five steps to properly recondition a lead acid battery with no snake oil no pulse charging and no additives it takes a lot of time but if you want to recondition a battery this is how you do it now there are a lot of different variants out there on how to do this process people may disagree about what the charge current should be or the amount of time to wait between each step or how many times you need to cycle the battery a lot of these details are debatable and this is just my method of doing it but as long as you follow this basic process and you can make your own changes along the way you should be successful in reconditioning most batteries and before I go I want to mention one more thing this entire process is totally unnecessary if you take care of your batteries now I realize that's not always practical and this may still happen at some point but if you keep batteries fully charged this will never happen to them an old worn-out battery cannot be reconditioned this is just for what they refer to as a sulfated battery in any case I hope this video helps you and thanks for watching