Lead-acid batteries are used everywhere because they don't cost much, relatively speaking, and can put out a large amount of energy for a sustained period of time. They are used in automobiles, of course, but they're also used in solar power installations, and to supply backup power. They weigh a lot, and tend to have a shorter lifespan than other categories of batteries.
A lead-acid battery can suffer degraded levels of performance due to corrosion, an internal short circuit, or due to a process known as sulfation.
If a lead-acid battery that you depend upon has reached the end of its active life, and is showing a considerable loss of performance, you may have to subject it to a process known as reconditioning, which can return the battery to active use.
Do bear in mind that the battery may not return to its original capacity - however, it will be useable once again. Also, remember that lead-acid batteries are really very flexible, so if a lead-acid battery cannot be used for the original application it was designed for, it can often be used elsewhere, for example, in a device providing backup power.
How reconditioning works
When the battery is discharging, the lead oxide, metallic lead, and sulfuric acid inside the battery, turn into lead sulfate, which coats the plates. When you charge the battery again, this lead sulfate is then broken down into the original lead, lead oxide and acid. However, if the lead sulfate is allowed to remain on the plates for any extended period of time, it hardens into crystals, and then these do not dissipate when the battery is charged.
As a matter of fact, they actively interfere in the charging process, and ultimately, the battery loses all capacity. Reconditioning a lead-acid battery is simply using various methods to break down this lead sulfate, thus returning the battery to its original form.
Many methods of reconditioning use a solution of Epsom salt to break down the lead sulfate in the battery.
After the Epsom salt solution breaks down the lead sulfate, a two-staged process is used to charge the battery.
In the first stage, a low but constant current is applied to the battery that charges the battery to about seventy percent or so, after which the second stage of the charging process begins, in which an even lower charge is applied to the battery that charges the battery to the remaining thirty percent.
Each stage of the charging process can take between seven to ten hours.
Please note that both stages of the charging process are necessary when you are reconditioning a battery. If you only apply the basic charging process, without applying the second charge at a lower voltage, the battery will not regain as much of its original full capacity.
Finally, once the battery is almost fully charged, a very low voltage charge is again applied to the battery to fine tune the battery's peak capacity. Temperature is very important at this stage, and a steady temperature of around thirty degrees Celsius needs to be maintained.
If you store the lead-acid battery, you need to store it fully charged, and test the battery from time to time to make sure the charge hasn't degraded.
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