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What is Equalizing?
Equalizing is an overcharge performed on flooded lead acid batteries after they have been fully charged. It reverses the buildup of negative chemical effects like stratification, a condition where acid concentration is greater at the bottom of the battery than at the top. Equalizing also helps to remove sulfate crystals that might have built up on the plates. If left unchecked, this condition, called sulfation, will reduce the overall capacity of the battery. Equalizing is only performed on flooded batteries, and is not to be done to AGM batteries.
Many experts recommend that batteries be equalized periodically, ranging anywhere from once a month to once or twice per year. However, others recommend equalizing when low or wide ranging specific gravity (± .015) are detected after fully charging a battery.
1. Verify the battery(s) are flooded type, and not AGM.
2. Remove all loads from the batteries.
3. Connect battery charger.
4. Set charger for the equalizing voltage (See Table 2 below)
5. Start charging batteries.
6. Batteries will begin gassing and bubbling vigorously.
7. Take specific gravity readings every hour.
8. Equalization is complete when specific gravity values no longer rise during the gassing stage.
NOTE: Many chargers do not have an equalization setting so this procedure can't be carried out.
Charging batteries properly requires administering the right amount of current at the right voltage. Most charging equipment automatically regulates these values. Some chargers allow the user to set these values. Both automatic and manual equipment can present difficulties in charging. Tables 2 & 3 list most of the necessary voltage settings one might need to program a charger. In either case the original instructions for your charging equipment should also be referenced for proper charging. Here is list of helpful items to remember when charging.
1. Become familiar with and follow the instructions issued by the charger manufacturer.
2. Batteries should be charged after each period of use.
3. Lead acid batteries do not develop a memory and need not be fully discharged before recharging.
4. Charge only in well-ventilated area. Keep sparks or flames away from a charging battery.
5. Verify charger voltage settings are correct (Table 2).
6. Correct the charging voltage to compensate for temperatures above and below 80o F. (Add .028 volt per cell for every 10o below 80o F and subtract .028 volt per cell for every 10o above 80o F)
Charger Voltage Settings for Flooded Batteries:
7. Check water level.
8. Tighten all vent caps before charging.
9. Prevent overcharging the batteries. Overcharging causes excessive gassing (water breakdown), heat buildup, and battery aging.
10. Prevent undercharging the batteries. Undercharging causes stratification.
11. Do not charge a frozen battery.
12. Avoid charging at temperatures above 120o F.
Submitted by Mike Sundberg - 2/07/06
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