Mr. Truck 12-21-09
Batteries keep us rolling and give us conveniences in our trucks and horse trailers. But if you don’t maintain them, you’ll be stranded and surprised. I run a lot of toys from my eight 12-volt outlets in my truck from my cooler to my motion detector in the trailer. Diesel trucks use two 12-volt batteries for extra power to start a diesel engine. This also gives you reserve power going down the road. Living quarter horse trailers usually have two deep cell batteries that can be drawn down and last a long time. With four batteries between your truck and trailer, proper maintenance is as important as checking our truck’s oil level. There’s new technology that can do most of the work for you.
Sulfation builds up on battery plates naturally when chemicals in the battery acid discharge to the point where they crystallize and coat the lead plates. The more the plates are coated, the less charging they hold. High-frequency pulse technology works to actually reduce the buildup of sulfation on the battery plates. SolarPulse Industrial Solar Charging System is a product that reenergizes the sulfates, removes them from the lead plates back into the acid where they have a purpose in cycling. Sulfation of the lead plates is the largest cause of battery deterioration.
SolarPulse emits a DC current into the battery. The microprocessor charges the battery with one circuit and conditions the battery with another circuit low-voltage high-frequency pulse, continuously desulfating your batteries. SolarPulse keeps your batteries charged and conditions them for longer life -five-times longer according to SolarPulse from Premium Supply. And all with free power from its solar panel.
For my horse trailer I was trying to decide between solar and wind. Wind generation puts out more power but is noisy, more expensive and has to be set up each time. The 5-Watt SolarPulse I installed has a compact solar panel 8.8- by 8.7-inch which is flat on a piece of aluminum instead of framed like other panels I use. With eyelets on each corner, it’s easy to mount anywhere. It comes with 17 feet of cable, the microprocessor box is weatherproof and has a LED that flashes for low charge in cloudy weather and solid light for full charge.
Best of both worlds, charging and conditioning batteries for longer battery life. Trickle charging is better for batteries than a high charge you might do to prepare your trailer to use after it has set all winter.
SolarPulse solar panels, instead of glass, are protected with a clear polyurethane plastic coating. This I need, my trailer seams to run into tree branches and hail storms. Commercial grade single-crystalline silicon solar cells from SolarPulse are as good as it gets. Charging and conditioning batteries is ideal for LQ horse trailers and can come in handy with hydraulic dumper trailers, car trailers with winches and vehicles that sit for months at time. SolarPulse works with all battery types, wet cell, gel cell, AGM and dual battery setup like a LQ horse trailer uses.
In the last couple of decades, battery manufacturers came out with “maintenance free” batteries that supposedly don’t need water added. Well maybe not as often, but they still need water added from time to time; it’s just harder to take the cell caps off. Lead-acid batteries normally use up some of the water in their dilute sulfuric acid electrolyte during a normal charge-discharge cycle. If your battery stays charged, it won’t use much water, but if you over charge or run the battery down often, you will want to check the water level.
Only the “gel” batteries like Optima don’t need water added. Back in my farm days, I would replace two batteries on my diesel tractors with one red top Optima gel battery. Gel batteries don’t corrode their terminals, which is a big benefit on a diesel truck and a Living Quarters horse trailer with all the accessory electric leads anchored to the battery terminals. Most LQ horse trailers are wired to a trickle charge from the truck going down the road. Solar panels are becoming popular for keeping Living Quarter trailer batteries charged.
The Lead Acid battery is made up of plates, lead and lead oxide with a 35 percent sulfuric acid and 65 percent water solution. This solution is called electrolyte, which causes a chemical reaction that produces electricity. When you test a battery with a hydrometer, you are measuring the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte. Before you add any water, suck enough electrolyte out of one cell into the hydrometer to float the bulb. Squirt the liquid back and repeat with the next cell. All six cells should have readings within 0.050, or you’ve got a bad cell. These readings very with temperature. Most modern batteries have a built in hydrometer eye, that’s green when charged. Deep cell batteries have thicker lead plates for greater long-term energy delivery and can survive a number of discharge cycles.
I had this discussion with my teenage daughter about keeping her car battery cleaned. She explained to me that all she had to do was clean the top of the battery terminals. Two weeks later, her car wouldn’t start. The basics with batteries are keeping the water level at the fill line. Distilled water is the ideal water to add to your battery, tap water usually has minerals which can corrode the battery lead plates. Don’t over fill the batteries with water as it is acid that’s inside the battery and you don’t need that running over and on your trucks metal parts.
Pour warm water on your battery posts to start the cleaning. Good ol’ baking soda mixed with water is the best thing to use to getting rid of corrosion. Use a wrench to take the battery cable terminal clamp off the battery post. Be sure to do the negative side first – it is electricity – be safe and unhook the ground first. Mix baking soda and water in a used soup can, dipping the batter cable terminal in the soup can will take the green stuff off. Pour what’s left of the baking soda in the can on the battery posts. Use a battery cleaning tool to scrub the posts and inside the terminals. After you re-clamp the terminals to the battery posts, hose the battery off with water and apply grease to the terminals or a battery terminal sealant. There is a cleaning brush for GM side terminals. In an emergency, you can use a bottle of Coke or Pepsi to eat some of the corrosion off the battery terminals.
Keep your batteries clean and serviced, and you’ll forget what booster cables are for.
Thanks to http://www.Premium-Supply.com for the 5-watt SolarPulse.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.
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