Batteries - General Info





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    Default Batteries - General Info

    Battery Selection and Maintenance

    Battery Technologies:

    Lead acid plate types:
    • Flat Plate
    • Tubular
    • Plante

    Flat Plate:
    Make Up Of Different Flat Plate Technologies:
    • Lead Calcium
    • Lead Antimony
    • Lead Selenium With Active Material Paste

    Advantages Of Flat Plate Technologies:
    • Low Cost
    • High Short Term Performance
    • Good energy Density
    Disadvantages Of Flat Plate Technology:
    • Limited Life Span
    • Limited Cycle Ability

    Flat Plate technology is used mainly in motor starting applications where a high initial current is required. They have a thin construction with large exposed area for the chemical reaction to take place. This means a very high amount of energy can be extracted from the plates over a short period of time. However it cannot sustain high loads over long periods of time. Flat plate technology is generally designed to have a useful lifetime of between 5 and 12 years.


    Tubular Plate:
    Make Up Of Tubular Plate Technology:
    • Lead Alloy Spines
    • Non Woven Polyester Tubes
    • Active Material Between Spines And Tubes

    Advantages Of Tubular Technology:
    • Good Energy Density
    • Superior Cycling Ability

    Disadvantages:
    • Poor High Rate Performance

    Tubular Plate technology is used mainly in standby power applications where a constant current is drawn from the cells. It is ideally suited to float charging conditions. The tubular plates are susceptible to plate growth especially in very high temperature environments. Tubular plate technology is generally designed to have a useful lifespan of between 10 and 15 years.

    Plante Plate:
    Make Up Of Plante Plate Technology:
    • Pure Lead Plate
    • Enhanced Surface Area
    • Active Material Formed On Plate Surface

    Advantages:
    • Superior Life And Reliability
    • Retains Full Capacity Throughout Life(1.00 Ageing factor)

    Disadvantages:
    • High Cost
    • Large And Heavy

    Plante Plate technology is the ultimate in lead acid cells. It is used mainly for standby power applications where reliability is crucial. This technology has the ability to maintain heavy loads over long periods for specific casing size as the lead is pure and the plates have a big surface area. If cut apart the plates look like a wafer. Plante plate technology is generally designed to have a useful lifetime of 25 years and up.

    VRLA VS. VLA/ SLA:

    VRLA:
    • Stands for Valve Regulated Lead Acid.
    • Lost Fluids Can Be Topped Up.
    • Generally Cheaper Than VLA/ SLA
    • Available In Flat Plate, Tubular And Plante
    • Better Suited To Warm Environment

    VLA/ SLA:
    • Stands For Vented Lead Acid/ Sealed Lead Acid
    • Lost Fluids Cannot Be Topped Up
    • More Expensive Than VRLA
    • Only Available In Flat Plate and Tubular
    • Not Suited To Warm Environment

    Comments:
    IMO the best technology for engine starting applications is the VRLA flat plate design as it is by far the cheapest, it will have a hard life in the hot environment under the bonnet of your vehicle.

    The best technology for your second battery and specifically for camping purposes will be the tubular design. If you keep it away from high heat it will last for years and give you trouble free enjoyment. Fiamm Batteries produce a range of tubular VRLA 12V Batteries that are really worth a look at. If indeed you don’t have the means to acquire one of these I would not hesitate to recommend the Raylite RR2. In my experience the RR range is incredible value for money, but shop around for the best price or you may get ripped off.

    Plante technology is simply horrendously expensive and apart from that you will almost certainly not be able to get a single casing with 6 cells to make up the 12V required in automotive applications. They are sold as individual 2V cells and are thus very difficult to install.

    Different Chargers:
    • Constant voltage
    • Constant Current
    • Dual Stage Constant Voltage

    Constant Voltage:
    • Delivers A Constant Set Voltage To Charge A Battery.
    • Has A Set Current Limit.
    • Should Sized According To Battery capacity
    • CurrentFalls Away As Voltage Approaches Battery Float Voltage
    • Produces Very Little Gassing
    • Ideal For VLA/ SLA

    Constant Current:
    • Delivers A Constant Set Current To Charge A Battery.
    • Has A Set Voltage Limit
    • Should Be Sized According To Battery Capacity
    • Current Does Not Fall Away As Voltage Approaches Battery Float Voltage
    • Produces A Lot Of Gassing Resulting In Fluid Loss
    • Used Mainly To Commission New Batteries
    • Never To Be Used On VLA/ SLA

    Dual Stage Constant Voltage:
    • Delivers Two Pre-Set Voltages To Charge A Battery
    • Has A Set Current Limit
    • Has A Timing Mechanism To Accomplish Charging In Two Stages
    • Stage 1: Boost Charge At Between 2.30V And 2.40V Per Cell
    • Stage 1 Lasts For A Set Period That Is Usually 8 Hours
    • Freshens Up Batteries That Have Been In Storage
    • Hastens The Recharging Process
    • Stage 2: Float Charge At Between 2.23V And 2.27V Per Cell
    • Keeps Battery On Top Of Charge
    • Also Known As The Trickle Charge Mode
    • Used Mainly For VRLA Batteries
    • Not Recommended For VLA/ SLA

    Float Charge:
    Float charging is the term used to describe a charging process where a charge voltage of 2.23V to 2.27V per cell is applied to a battery. Thus a 12v battery consisting of 6 cells will be charged at a voltage of between 13.4V and 13.6V. This is a generally accepted method of charging for batteries that cannot be topped up with distilled water as this charge voltage will not cause gassing to occur inside the battery casing on condition that ambient temperature does not exceed 25 degrees Celsius. It is also acceptable to leave a battery on float as almost all current flow falls away during the later stages of charging. The only current flow that will be experienced at the end of the charging cycle will be a tiny current that compensates for the internal resistance losses in the battery itself. Float charging does however have one major drawback in that it takes an extremely long time for a battery to be fully charged. It is illustrated in the drawings attached.



    Boost Charge:
    Boost charge is the term used to describe a charging process where a charge voltage of between 2.30V and 2.45V per cell is applied to a battery. For a 12V battery this means a charge voltage of between 13.8V and 14.7V. This is a charging method suited to open type vented batteries of the type that can be topped up with distilled water. The reason for this type of charge is to re-mix the acid and water inside the battery as they do separate somewhat during long periods of float charging. This type of charging also loosens contaminates from plate surfaces by means of the gas bubbles passing through the plates on the way up out of the battery. Boost charge is also known as refresh charge. Boost charging should not be applied to a stationary (Non car) battery for prolonged periods. Continuous boost charging shortens battery life. Never use this charging method on sealed batteries.

    Charge Current:
    Charge current is vitally important in determining the length of time it will take to fully recharge a battery, but too much current will also generate unwanted heat during the charging process which in turn will shorten battery life dramatically. Manufacturers generally recommend a charging current of 10% of the battery A/H rating, in other words a 100A/H battery will require a maximum charging current of 10A, but in my experience it is better to charge at a rate of 7% in the hot South African climate to avoid heat build up in a battery. Charging current is also used to determine the amount of time required to fully charge a battery. It is generally accepted that the amount of A/H required to charge a fully discharged battery is battery capacity multiplied by 1.2 in other words a 100A/H battery requires a 120A/H charge. Thus if you charge this battery at a rate of 7A it will take +- 17 Hours to reach a fully charged state. The formula is battery capacity multiplied by 1.2 and then divided by the charging current.

    Charging Time:
    As can be seen above charging time is directly related to the amount of current going into the battery. In the attached drawings that illustrate the relationship between current input and charging time you can clearly see why it sometimes seems as if your battery has not fully charged, because in fact it hasn’t. This is one of the reasons why I would recommend the use of a VRLA battery as opposed to a VLA/ SLA.



    Comments:

    IMO the best charger to buy will probably be the dual stage model and preferably a model that allows you to bypass the boost function manually. This allows you the freedom to choose which batteries you want to buy. For what I have seen on this forum you should not need to go larger than a 10A charger. Another misconception about chargers is that you cannot leave a battery on charge indefinitely. You can, provided the output voltage is at the battery float voltage level.



    Dual System Batteries In Your Vehicle:

    Using One Power Source to Charge Two Batteries:
    The alternator output voltage on most if not all vehicles is sufficient to charge a 12V battery, furthermore the current output is almost always enough to hold the two batteries in a dual battery equipped vehicle in a state of fully being charged. However if you are utilizing a VLA/ SLA as a secondary battery it would be a good idea to regulate the voltage being supplied to it especially if no current is being drawn from it during driving. Remember that although some alternators have an output voltage of 14.6V the primary battery is the source of power for all the accessories such as the radio, headlights etc. in your vehicle. This has an equalising effect on the charging rate and minimizes fluid loss.

    Deep Cycle Batteries:
    This for me is a matter of opinion. I don’t believe in such a thing and here is why. Any 12V battery is fully discharged at a voltage of 1.65V per cell giving you an end voltage of 9.9V. If you discharge any 12V battery to a lower voltage than this it will sustain damage and apart from that you will have no meaningful capacity left in the battery to speak of. The graph attached should convince you to keep discharge levels to a minimum as it affects battery life dramatically.

    Battery Life And Maintenance:

    Temperature:
    Temperature is one of the most important factors in determining battery life. Excessive heat accelerates the breakdown of the battery plate material. It also encourages the evaporation of hydrogen and oxygen from a battery. Temperatures that constantly exceed 30 degrees Celsius can half battery life. see attached drawings

    Sulfation:
    Sulfation in batteries is the process in which the electrolyte enters the plate material of a battery either by low electrolyte levels or long storage times of batteries during which no charging occurs or when a discharged battery is allowed to stand for a period of time without recharging. This electrolyte penetration of the plates solidifies after a period of time into crystals that are virtually impossible to remove by a normal charging cycle. Sulfation lowers the capacity of a battery, sometimes to a point where no capacity is left in the battery. Always keep your battery on a slow charge when not in permanent use.

    A/H rating:
    In order to simplify this I will be referring to a 10 hour discharge rate. Thus if you have a 100 A/H battery fully charged it should give you a maximum current of 10A for 10 Hours after which it will be completely discharged. This does not mean you will be able to discharge the same battery at 20A for 5 hours or at 100A for one hour as the discharge characteristic curve is not linear. In other words you may be able to discharge the battery at 18.5A for 5 hours or 85A for one hour depending on specific battery specifications.

    Gassing:
    Gassing occurs within a battery or cell under two conditions. During a high voltage charge(Couple this to high input current and heat becomes your worst enemy) and during high temperature conditions when a battery is being charged at normal voltage. Without going into scientific detail this is a process whereby the charging voltage or high ambient temperature combined with charging causes the sulpheric acid solution to separate with its hydrogen and oxygen molecules in a gaseous form. This depletes the water level of the acid solution within the battery and causes the electrolyte level to drop, thereby necessitating the addition of distilled water to maintain not only the level of electrolyte but also the specific gravity of the acid solution within the battery.

    Distilled Water:
    Distilled water is created during a specialized chemical process which removes all impurities, minerals and metals from the water. Rainwater is not pure enough and will contaminate the electrolyte in a battery. Distilled water is available for free at most battery outlets and I would not recommend using water from a service station.

    Acid:
    Once a battery has been commissioned it must never be topped up with acid. This will cause premature failure of the battery as the specific gravity of the electrolyte will become higher thereby speeding up the breakdown period of the plate material. A battery only loses hydrogen and oxygen through gassing and if you combine these two you will see you are only losing water and not acid.

    Reconditioned Batteries:
    You CANNOT recondition a battery by pouring out the acid, washing the plates with water and refilling with fresh acid. All the debris that comes out during the washing out of an old battery is part of what used to be the plates. Apart from this Sulfation of the plates makes this absolutely not worth your while.

    Warnings:

    Hydrogen:
    Hydrogen is a gas that is created during the charging process. It is extremely volatile and will explode in the presence of a naked flame. This is bad news as the explosion will trigger an event whereby the hot flames heat up the sulpheric acid producing even more hydrogen. Not only will these flames burn you to a crisp, but an exploding battery has lots of shrapnel containing hot lead.

    Lead:
    Lead is a heavy metal that causes cancer and birth defects. It can seep through your skin and is the main reason why you should not spill acid on yourself.

    Acid:
    Acid not only ruins your clothing but will burn you if left unwashed on your skin. If while working with a battery you get an itchy sensation, immediately wash the affected area. Also keep an eye wash bottle handy. Acid really hurts when it gets into your eyes.
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    Last edited by Koebelwagen; 2012/01/31 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Updated Information

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    Koebelwagen, tks for all the info on batteries - what to do and what not to do.

    Just another question that have been bogging me for a while: what causes acid (if it is acid) buildup on battery terminals and sometimes even around the battery clamp (metal clamps). Is this normal? What can one do to prevent this?

    I know that some accessory shops sell little green & red plastic type rings that fit around the poles and supposedly will prevent this buildup - does this work?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koebelwagen View Post

    Sulfation:
    Sulfation in batteries is the proccess in which the electrolyte enters the plate material of a battery either by low electrolyte levels or long storage times of batteries during which no charging occurs or when a discharged battery is allowed to stand for a period of time without recharging.
    My question is "What is a long time" for a battery to stand. I know my batteries, 1 crank battery and 2 deep cycles, stand for two weeks ata time with no ill effects. I just replaced my cranker after 7 years of abuse.
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    Blackie, Acid build up around poles is as a result of the factory fitted rubber seals around the posts perishing or being of poor quality. These seals are not readily replaceable as they sit inside the battery casing in most cases. When these seals do not seal, acid slowly creeps up the terminal post and when the hydrogen and oxygen evaporates you get the white build up( which is the acid without the water)

    The only real way to limit this in my experience is to coat the base of the terminal with a grease compound you can get from any good battery supplier. Be carefull with vaseline as some rubber seals have an adverse reaction to this petroleum based product which causes the seal to deteriorate even more.

    In my opinion an aftermarket cap will only mask the acid build up.

    Hope it helps.

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    Bob when I said a battery should not be left in an uncharged state for prolonged periods I ommited to state what a long period is. I apologise

    a fully charged battery left in storage should be re-charged to full capacity after 3 to 6 months depending on manufacturer.

    A discharged battery should be re-charged within 72 Hours to avoid damage.

    Remember the damage caused to a battery when sulfation occurs is not a fast process, but a gradual loss of capacity, almost like a cancer for batteries

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    Hi Koebelwagen,

    Please explain a bit more about the valve regulated lead calcuim batteries. In your last statement you say they don't last as long as normal lead acid. I specifically bought my lead calcuim battery because I was told that the lead/calcuim alloy lasts longer than the normal lead. Was I duped ?

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    I wouldn't say duped so much as misinformed. I heard a rumour today about lead calcium being the only battery that will be made from now on. That is total rubbish. Pure lead batteries are still being produced and if I think quickly the raylite RR2 is one of them.

    Lead calcium technology was originally introduced as a low cost standby battery technology. It has its good and bad points. Notably it is much cheaper to produce than pure lead batteries(there is a world wide shortage of pure lead), but in most cases they are sealed which means you can't top them up. This is ok for temperature controlled battery rooms but not for the hot climate outdoors. If you take this single factor into account your lead calcium battery will not last for its designed lifetime.

    In my experience with these batteries, quality control in the manufacturing stage is not always uniform creating a scenario where one such battery will last five years and the next for only three.

    Remember so-called "new technology" is a great way for sales people to generate income and it is unfortunate but a fact that if you are not actively involved in a product or don't have a history with it the wool will sometimes be pulled over your eyes. It happens to me a lot

    What I would suggest is this: Use these batteries until the end of their lifetime, then invest in a set of Raylite RR2 batteries. IMHO these are the best value for money, budget batteries you can buy, they handle abuse well and although you occasionally get a dud(as with everything) they will last at least five years.

    Also I am working on a thread that goes into even more detail, it will have graphs and comparisons the lot!
    Last edited by Koebelwagen; 2009/01/22 at 10:38 PM.

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    Thumbs up DIY low volt disconnect system for second battery

    I have read in various posts about battery damage occuring when the second battery in a vehicle has been discharged below the specified minimum. Herewith a diagram for a simple yet very effective lowvolt disconnector.

    Bill of materials:

    1 x 11 pin Voltage monitor unit @ R360.00 excl
    1 x 11 pin socket @ R 35.00 excl
    1 x Red indication lamp @ R 34.00 excl
    1 x Green indication lamp @ R 34.00 excl
    1 x On/ Off Dbl Pole Switch @ R 99.00 excl (Can be used to operate both switches in circuit simultaneously)
    1 x DC contactor @ R 500.00 excl Approximate price. Can be replaced with a solid state 75A power relay mounted on heat sink @ R766.00 excl
    1 x plastic housing @ R 129.00 excl
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    Last edited by Koebelwagen; 2008/10/14 at 10:08 AM.
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    If this link is still alive... What is the best thing to do with a second (deep cycle) battery when using the vehicle day to day (no fridge no load). Disconnect and remove, or leave in for a top up charge

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    Quote Originally Posted by hubaru View Post
    If this link is still alive... What is the best thing to do with a second (deep cycle) battery when using the vehicle day to day (no fridge no load). Disconnect and remove, or leave in for a top up charge
    I'd also be interested to know.

    I have just had two 75 Ah deep cycle batteries installed, and a CHURR 'charge controller' as well.

    I use the bakkie daily for about 10 km. but have disconnected the cooler and the freezer from the batteries ...... or should I connect them ??

    The batteries are still connected to the charging system.
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    Gaitshi

    I would leave them connected for the following reasons:
    You have a charger that keeps the voltage hopefully at the correct voltage for the battery, if the battery is fully charge it will not take more current from the charger so nothing happens.
    If your battery is isolated normally with a diode from the altenator and does not have a charger that regulates the voltage.
    This will depend on altenator voltage which is normally 14V. Minus diode 0.6V => 13.4V This should be fine for most batteries Not overcharging them
    Check the specific battery spesification.

    If second battery is directly connected to altenator it becomes part of the normal dayly vehicle use, which will shorten the battery lifetime, and could damage the battery due to the type of battery selected.

    Jannie

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    Koebel this is a most informative thread I will second your signature "Today I learnt something new that will help me create a better tomorrow".

    Thanks for your effort

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    Great thread .

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    Talking RE:- Running accessaries of main battery and dual battery?

    Hi All,
    I am running my winch and air compressor of the main battery and My spot Lights of my Dual battery (Not My doing it was suggested by the installers!!) is this correct can dual battery handle spot lights
    Next question is can one jump start the main battery from the Dual Battery if Main battery becomes flat (They are diffrent batteries after all?) which hopefully should not happen?
    Thanking You in advance for Your Help!
    Regards
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  16. The Following User Says Thank You to pumbza For This Useful Post:


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    Quote Originally Posted by pumbza View Post
    Hi All,
    I am running my winch and air compressor of the main battery and My spot Lights of my Dual battery (Not My doing it was suggested by the installers!!) is this correct can dual battery handle spot lights
    Next question is can one jump start the main battery from the Dual Battery if Main battery becomes flat (They are diffrent batteries after all?) which hopefully should not happen?
    Thanking You in advance for Your Help!
    Regards
    Andre'
    Hi guys

    this is a very interesting thread with Koebelwagen having given some very detailed information about the various types of batteries.

    However there are some flaws in some of the statements:

    1. "Most alternators are sufficient to charge up a battery = Wrong!

    The above statement is about equally correct as "Smarties can serve as contraceptive pills." It just somehow doesn't work.

    An alternator cannot fully charge a battery. That is one of the main reasons why so many high end vehicles get stranded with a flat battery.

    2. A battery is fully charged when purchased = Wrong!

    A battery is at most charged about 60% when purchased. If battery charge falls below 49% rapidly accelerated sulphation will take place.

    3. If a car is jump started, I just have to drive about 100km and the battery is full again = Absolute 100% rubbish

    A battery needs a charge voltage of between 14.4 and 14.7 Volt for normal full charge. On a completely flat battery, charge voltage of up to 16 Volt is necessary to break the sulphation and charge the battery.

    An alternator regulates current to max 13.8V on most vehicles. You can now see why a charging of batteries in the vehicle is not possible.

    Also when operating a vehicle with a insufficently charged battery, some of the electronics can start to play up with all sorts of inconvenient side effects from irritating to debilitating the proper running of the vehicle. Just ask any owner of a W140 Merc or similar high end vehicle and he will tell you.

    I have been giving lectures to various classic car clubs locally and overseas on battery maintenance for the last 34 years.

    In 2008 I wrote an article in Benzlens, the MBCSA club magazne. Send me a pm and I will gladly email it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pumbza View Post
    Hi All,
    I am running my winch and air compressor of the main battery and My spot Lights of my Dual battery (Not My doing it was suggested by the installers!!) is this correct can dual battery handle spot lights
    Next question is can one jump start the main battery from the Dual Battery if Main battery becomes flat (They are diffrent batteries after all?) which hopefully should not happen?
    Thanking You in advance for Your Help!
    Regards
    Andre'
    Hi Pumbza

    I would install a CTEK D250S dual battery charger. This is not a normal charger but an "inverter/charger". What this means is that it will take the max 13.8V charge current of the alternator and up this to between 14.4 to 14.7V which will give the possibility of charging the secondary deep cycle battery fully while driving. It will apply this charge only to the secondary battery so as not to play havoc with the Motronic or engine electronics of the vehicle.

    You would also have to obtain a charger CTEK XS7000 to charge up the main battery and keep the whole system on charge when not in use. With the CTEK chargers these can be left connected indefinitely. We use them on our collection in Switzerland, where cars are not used between begin November and end of April each year due to weather and salt on the roads.

    Send me a pm and I will forward some detailed info on vehicle charging
    Last edited by hgbosch; 2010/11/08 at 07:41 AM.
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    Thumbs up Re:- Batteries..??

    Hi hgbosch,
    Thanks for ur help much appreciated I will PM u thanks!
    Regards
    Andre'
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    Thumbs up Re:- hgbosch..!!

    Hi There,

    First question is what is a normal healthy deep cell battery voltage and amperage output in other words when does one know its good or must be replaced?

    Regards
    Andre'
    2003 Prado Vx 1KZ-TE 200,00km BF Goodrich AT Uni Q Chip!
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  21. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pumbza View Post
    Hi There,

    First question is what is a normal healthy deep cell battery voltage and amperage output in other words when does one know its good or must be replaced?

    Regards
    Andre'
    Andre

    herewith some info that will go a long way explaining your questions:

    Temperature Compensation Table

    Open Circuit Voltage
    Approximate State-of-Charge at 80F (26.7C)
    Hydrometer Average Cell Specific Gravity
    Electrolyte Freeze Point
    12.65
    100%
    1.265
    -77F(-67C)
    12.45
    75%
    1.225
    -35F(-37C)
    12.24
    50%
    1.190
    -10F(-23C)
    12.06
    25%
    1.155
    15F(-9C)
    11.89 or less
    DISCHARGED
    1.120 or less
    20F(-7C)
    Open Circuit VoltageApproximate State-of-Charge at 80F (26.7C)Hydrometer Average Cell Specific GravityElectrolyte Freeze Point12.65100%1.265-77F(-67C)12.4575%1.225-35F(-37C)12.2450%1.190-10F(-23C)12.0625%1.15515F(-9C)11.89 or lessDISCHARGED1.120 or less20F(-7C)
    Open Circuit VoltageApproximate State-of-Charge at 80F (26.7C)Hydrometer Average Cell Specific GravityElectrolyte Freeze Point12.65100%1.265-77F(-67C)12.4575%1.225-35F(-37C)12.2450%1.190-10F(-23C)12.0625%1.15515F(-9C)11.89 or lessDISCHARGED1.120 or less20F(-7C)
    Open Circuit VoltageApproximate State-of-Charge at 80F (26.7C)Hydrometer Average Cell Specific GravityElectrolyte Freeze Point12.65100%1.265-77F(-67C)12.4575%1.225-35F(-37C)12.2450%1.190-10F(-23C)12.0625%1.15515F(-9C)11.89 or lessDISCHARGED1.120 or less20F(-7C)
    Source:
    http://autorepair.about.com/library/.../aa101604b.htm

    An accurate test of a battery other than SG can only be done via a load test. I have emailed you a very comprehensive document.
    George Bosch
    2003 RangeRover Vogue 3.0 Td6 (Mine) / 2005 LR Disco3 TDV6 S (Swambo's) / 1998 Disco1 Tdi ES (Sold) / And some more serious stuff

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