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Old 03-16-09, 12:06 PM   #1
closetbiker
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lead-acid use/life

This winter I secured a light set up that had been owned and used quite a bit from a friend.

He said the lead-acid battery wasn't holding it's charge like it used to and he wasn't sure if it was the charger or the battery that was the problem.

I took the battery to a battery store and they said it needed replacing. The charger was fine.

It's been working great but now that lighter days are arriving, I'm not going to be needing the light until the fall. I want the battery to last the many years it should.

I'm wondering do I have to keep it on a trickle charge all summer, or can I just let it sit for months uncharged and in the fall charge it up and it'll be as good as new?
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Old 03-16-09, 12:31 PM   #2
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Sell it while it's still working and replace it with Nimh or Li-ion when you next need lights.

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Old 03-16-09, 02:29 PM   #3
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Don't leave it on trickle all summer, just put it on charge once a month for a few hours. I do that with my spare car battery and it is 10 years old and still good.
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Old 03-16-09, 02:58 PM   #4
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SLA (sealed lead-acid) batteries should be recharged every six months. This avoids sulfation which can lead to an early failure. A light trickle-charge should not hurt it, but it's not really necessary once the battery is topped off.

Would you share more details of the setup? What size battery are we talking about - 12 volts, amp-hour capacity? What about the charger - how many amps is it rated for, does it have different charging rates? Some chargers know to back off once the battery is charged up and therefore avoid any problems with overcharging.

Best wishes.

EDIT: BTW most SLA batteries will last between three and five years. Anything beyond five is a gift.
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Old 03-16-09, 05:51 PM   #5
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I guess I'm wondering once it is charged, how long does it take to drain just sitting there. Would giving it a charge once a month be OK?

The battery is a 6 volt Infinity sealed lead-acid battery

http://infinitybattery.com/products.php



and the charger is a universal floating charger that allows a fast medium and slow charge time at 6 or 12 volts. Once the battery is fully charged, it goes to a tickle and can be kept on charge for a long time without over-charging

http://www.rpelectronics.com/Default...ms/FC-612C.asp



I connect the battery to an old VistaLite 420 with a 10 watt bulb that I zip-tie to hang under my handlebar.



It worked very well on a very dark trail I used early in the morning this past winter. Now I'm using it on the streets. I don't really need the light so much but 2 different people at work drove by me while I was using the light and both said they were very impressed by how much light was coming out. They said I looked like I was riding a motorcycle.

I've always used a much smaller light on the road, using 2 re-chargeable C-cell NicCad batteries and every so often the batteries needed to be replaced because they wouldn't hold a charge. I was told this lead-acid battery would last much longer than the NicCad's but I always wondered if my lack of charging the NicCads over the summers contributed to their life spans.

I thought this would be a good place to ask some people who know about the topic. I appreciate any help I can get.

Thanks.

Last edited by closetbiker; 03-16-09 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 03-17-09, 03:29 AM   #6
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NiCads and Ni-MHs can benefit from a maintenance, or trickle, charge. However, there are very few chargers that do it properly. Too much current can damage these cells.

It is my understanding that SLAs do well with a maintenance charge and this can extend their life. You, the end user, have to decide how much you want to invest in equipment.

Looks to me you have a good charger that you can leave on the battery indefinitely without worry that the battery would be damaged. Monthly charges over the summer would work well too. Will you remember to keep your schedule? If you think you would forget then you might just leave it on the charger all the time.

Or you could just use the light through the summer.
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Old 03-17-09, 08:39 AM   #7
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Thanks, and wouldn't you know it. I went to charge the battery this morning and found the red clip (that's attached to the fuse) is missing. Can't find it anywhere. I hope I can find it or get a replacement somewhere.
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Old 03-17-09, 08:42 AM   #8
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It's the 21st century.

Why are you cycling around with a block of lead on your bicycle ?
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Old 03-17-09, 08:50 AM   #9
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It makes my legs and lungs stronger.
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Old 03-17-09, 11:10 AM   #10
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Thanks, and wouldn't you know it. I went to charge the battery this morning and found the red clip (that's attached to the fuse) is missing. Can't find it anywhere. I hope I can find it or get a replacement somewhere.
I dunno where you'd find an In-line fuse holder connected to an alligator clip. You may have to build one which will possibly involve a bit of soldering. In-line fuses are pretty easy to find at automotive stores (Canadian Tire). Alligator clips are more likely to be found at Electronic stores but you may find them at Canadian Tire. You could also look into just using a good old slide terminal depending on the contacts on your battery.

Now i know i shouldn't ever advocate defeating a fuse but... if it were me i'd cut off the remaining half of the fuse and strip the red wire and crimp on either an alligator clip or slide terminal. Quick, and ez. Done. Just don't hook it up improperly after that.

You could even, in the interim, just twist the bare wire onto your terminal, and then connect the negative. But doing that consistently will keep wearing out the wire.
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Old 03-17-09, 02:24 PM   #11
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To get it charged for tomorrow morning, I'm by-passing the fuse. Just have a connection from the terminal right into the half fuse holder.

If I can't find the part (and that's driving me nuts - I've lost 2 items in the last 30 years - one of which I found 6 months later) I was thinking of just by passing the fuse with another clip.

I'm guessing the primary problem with that is if I put the wrong clip on the wrong terminal, I can ruin the battery?
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Old 03-17-09, 02:31 PM   #12
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I'm guessing the primary problem with that is if I put the wrong clip on the wrong terminal, I can ruin the battery?
More likely to damage the charger or melt something, you'd probably trip the mains (over here at least).
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Old 03-17-09, 03:03 PM   #13
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but the problem is, if I connect red to black and black to red, right?
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Old 03-17-09, 05:22 PM   #14
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but the problem is, if I connect red to black and black to red, right?
It's going to depend on the type of charger and whether it has any protection built in.

It's probably best not to find out
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Old 03-17-09, 06:02 PM   #15
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Yeah. I think I can put something together so it still has the fuse. Guess I'll just have to get to work.
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Old 03-17-09, 06:17 PM   #16
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Is it a blade type fuse ?

Or cylindrical ?

Either way you should be able to buy an inline fuse holder pre-wired from somewhere like radioshack and crocodile clips as well.
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Old 03-17-09, 06:39 PM   #17
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Just like up in the pic, cylindrical.

I'll search around for a replacement (but I know as soon as I buy one, I'll find the old one) But I still may be able to connect a lead to my spare fuse and attach a clip to the other end.
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Old 03-18-09, 07:55 AM   #18
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It's going to depend on the type of charger and whether it has any protection built in.

It's probably best not to find out
The presense of an inline fuse leads me to believe that there is no protection. Good chargers have the outputs isolated until they sense a correct connection. The only reason for a fuse is to blow in the event of a reverse connection. The charger is current limited so shorting the outputs won't matter.

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but the problem is, if I connect red to black and black to red, right?
That's right. If you hook it up like that you risk damaging both battery and charger.
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Old 03-18-09, 02:17 PM   #19
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I use a 6v sealed lead acid setup on my 3 speed. I run 2 halogen headlights and a incandescent tail light. The lights are adequate for my nite rides. I want to be seen more than see. I find that if you discharge and charge every couple of weeks while the batt is not being used, it will hold up just fine.I have been doing this for over a year with good success. When in use, I get about a 3 hour run on the battery and then recharge it.
I have the same battery in a coleman lantern and do the same thing, discharge and charge. These batteries are relatively inexpensive but do last. They are the same batteries that are in alarm systems and emergency exit lights.
I would not leave on trickle charge when not in use because it is possible to overcharge a fully charged battery and possibly cause damage. It may be a different story with a FLOAT charger, which shuts off when batt is at full capacity and will start up again when the voltage drops.
My set up works just fine for me.
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Old 03-18-09, 06:22 PM   #20
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How about using one of the solar chargers ?

Like the ones that keep car batteries topped up.
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