HOW TO RECONDITION BATTERIES  

How to Recondition BatteriesAnyone can recondition a battery which is past its best, and you don’t need a degree in electronics to do it. You will need some basic equipment (most of which can be found at any hardware store), and the ability to follow instructions! Here are a few tips on how to recondition batteries safely. 

EQUIPMENT: 

·         Multimeter (to test the current and voltage of your batteries) 

·         Alligator clips (simple wires with clips on the ends for positive and negative terminals) 

·         Safety goggles 

·         Battery tester/analyser 

·         Battery post cleaner 

·         Screwdriver 

·         Plastic funnel (for adding chemicals) 

There are also a few safety guidelines-mostly common sense

SAFETY: 

·         Never freeze or overheat batteries-they do not like extremes of temperature 

·         Always wear rubberised safety gloves to handle batteries 

·         Always wear eye protection 

·         Avoid wearing jewellery, especially rings, as they can conduct electricity 

·         Never connect the positive and negative leads on a battery as it can overheat and cause injury 

·         If you use a multimeter, always connect the leads to the appropriate battery terminal (positive lead to positive terminal, negative lead to negative terminal) 

·         Wherever possible, work outside, or at least in a well ventilated area such as a garage. 

·         NEVER smoke or have a naked flame near a battery 

Batteries need reconditioning for a variety of different reasons. The main reason is the “memory effect”, which is caused by recharging batteries before they are fully discharged. The battery then “remembers” this, and will not hold a charge for as long as when it was new. Another reason is “sulphation”, which is where the conductive plates inside the battery become coated in a layer of lead sulphate, due to a reaction between the lead plates of the battery and sulphuric acid.  

The methods of reconditioning will be different depending on the individual battery problem. One method is using an equalising charge on the battery. Another method involves adding chemicals to the battery itself. Desulphation is the method used to break down the crystalline lead sulphate deposits on the battery posts (in the case of sulphation), and this involves using a high current pulse to turn the lead sulphate back into lead and sulphuric acid.  

Before you even start, check the battery for obvious problems such as a damaged outer case, low electrolyte levels, loose cable terminals, or any leaks. Begin by cleaning the posts of the batteries, which will ensure a good uninterrupted contact.  

Test the voltage of your batteries, using either a multimeter or a battery analyser (these should come with their own instructions for use.) Remember to always connect the positive lead to the positive terminal, and the negative to the negative. When testing batteries, they should not be under load; ie connected to any other device. 

The battery should read at least 12 volts. If it does not, then you may have a weak or dead battery cell. To check this, use a screwdriver to pry open the battery caps, and test them using the volt meter. If a cell measures less than two volts, then it is weak or dead. 

Reconditioning rechargeable batteries is pretty simple; just drain them completely of power then recharge to full capacity again. If this does not work then the battery may need renewing-which again is fairly simple, but is more involved than simply discharging and recharging. 

Battery reconditioning is a very worthwhile thing to take the time to learn, and is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Get the equipment, get the instructions-and get reconditioning! 

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