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19.01.2016
It is generally accepted that the most economic and practical depth of discharge (DOD) for an AGM battery is 50%. This begs the question, what Ah rating of AGM batteries would be the equivalent of the 3.8 kWh useable energy of the Lithium-ion battery?
Based on this you might immediately conclude that Lithium is not cost effective, however useable energy compared to price is only part of the story.
Increasing the current draw (as the graphs below show) can affect the useable energy available and battery voltage. Much that we have seen in the discharge process is also true in the converse process of charging.
Higher charge rates will heat up the battery (temperature compensation, voltage sensing and good ventilation are absolutely needed in such a case to prevent thermal runaway), and due to internal resistance the absorption voltage will be reached when the battery is charged at only 60% or less, resulting in a longer absorption time needed to fully charge the battery. High rate charging will therefore not substantially reduce the charging time of a lead-acid technology battery.
Depending how you treat a battery you can reasonably expect the range of cycles below, subject to the DOD and the battery banks being properly sized for the loads. No matter what battery choice you make there is also both a capital cost and technological risk at the outset. I concluded that the easiest solution for most people is to substitute an inexpensive #675 hearing-aid battery (with a spacer ring if needed to fit your battery compartment). While Wein cells are indeed effective for this, photographers have often speculated whether there is anything special about them. The Wein replacement for a PX13 or PX625 battery does have some physical differences from a 675. The Wein battery has the same dimensions as the 675 hearing-aid size, but adds a metal ring crimped around it. I have no insider knowledge of how Wein produces these batteries; and my only test equipment consists of a simple Radio Shack multi-meter.
Yet I made some curious discoveries about the voltage of zinc-air batteries (of both types), which photographers using these cells ought to know about. While researching my earlier post, I became curious exactly how much current a typical camera meter circuit was drawing. It was more convenient and accurate to use a simple resistor rather than a camera as my dummy load when comparing batteries.
But in fairness, we should note that even this solution can give different voltages depending on the specific diode chosen, and the current draw of the meter circuit. Given all these uncertainties, I continue to feel hearing-aid batteries are the most sensible real-world mercury replacement for many photographers.
Hi Mike, an extra few tenths of a volt pose no danger of frying the meter—it’s just an accuracy issue.
The short answer is that a zinc-air hearing aid battery (or a Wein cell if you care to pay the extra price) will be fine, *if* you turn on the meter and uncap the lens a few minutes before you start taking meter readings. If the charger has a setting for AGM, use this setting to charge your Chrome Battery AGM battery. Bulk stage – the charger should deliver the initial current I1 until the voltage limit U0 is reached. Absorption stage – the charger should maintain the voltage U0 until the current tapers to I2. Float stage and termination – the charger can maintain the current I1 indefinitely or until the charger is shut off or unplugged. Bulk stage – the charger should deliver the initial current I1 until the voltage limit U0 is reached. Absorption stage – the charger should maintain the voltage U until the current tapers to I2.
Thanks for your comments, with regards to the charging question of whether or not it is safe to charge a 20Ah battery with a 1amp charger it would be more than fine to do this, however if the battery was fully discharged it would take about 20 hours to fully charge the battery.
We are not to sure you will be able to revive this battery, however the best way to charge this is to have your 12Volt charger set at 2amp setting it should take about 4 hours to fully charge up this battery.
Yes we would suggest a float or maintenance charger for your battery that way it will not drop that low again. I put together the following chart which indicates the state-of-charge (percent) as it relates to battery voltage or specific gravity. How I determined the voltage values: I researched as many battery manufacturers that I could find regarding their own published SOC data.
Note: Voltage measurements are only approximate to determine SOC, and measuring battery voltage is NOT the most accurate way to do this (there are variables under varying circumstances).
Note: For longer battery life, batteries should remain in the green zone (40% or more SOC). Note: The 100% voltage is NOT the recommended charging voltage (which will be higher, and multi-stage).
If the gravity of each cell stays relatively the same (usually all in the green) does that mean that I don’t need to equalize that battery?


The reason I ask is: I have 90 watts of harbor freight panels, run thru a sunsaver controller that charges 2 wally world deep cycle batteries and the gravity has almost never been below the green level, and I never really have had to add much water. My other set up has about 750 watts of poly panels, run through a xantrex 30 amp charge controller charging a trojan 12 volt golf cart battery. I guess my question is do I need to do this since the wally world batteries always seem to be in good shape as per hydrometer readings? I built an off-grid system for my home and have expanded and maintained it myself over the years, so that is my knowledge base.
Also, NEVER combine different types, or age, or widely differing state of charge of your batteries when charging. Thanks Carl, and as you insinuated, there are variables, including temperature compensation measurements and others. Saw this as I was looking for a SG to SOC chart and thought I would make a couple of comments. For Lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) which is the safest of the mainstream Li-ion battery types, 80% DOD is used. This was fine in the days of light loads, but as the number of loads and the size of loads has increased over time, we also need to look at high short term loads, medium and longer term ones for differing types of equipment. Don’t be put off by the large generator sizes shown below, as this blog merely shows a range of scenarios.
It is worth bearing this in mind as this entails time, installation and transportation costs, which further negates the higher initial capital cost of Lithium as does the lower cost of recharging Lithium. If you are in a position of having the capital for the higher upfront costs of Lithium, you might find that life is easier and that choice is a cost effective one over time. This can be important in making electrical contact with some battery compartments, for example the metered Yashica Mat models. By making temporary connections to the battery compartment of my Olympus OM-1, I found that with its meter needle centered, it drew roughly 0.2 milliamps from its PX-13 mercury cell. The voltage of a mercury or silver-oxide battery scarcely changed when put under this load—a drop of maybe 0.005 volts.
Far more significant for accurate exposures is that you turn on the meter several minutes before taking a reading.
By introducing this small voltage drop, a very close approximation to the mercury battery voltage can be obtained. When you go out shooting, switch on the camera, uncover the lens cap, and leave it that way. Unfortunately, I do not understand the instructions that are included with the battery nor this article, above. We have a 1amp and a 4amp smart charger that is affordable that would do great with this type of charging maintenance.
Voltages and Specific Gravity are listed for a 6-volt or 12-volt battery, and battery banks of 24 and 48 volts. Some were slightly different from each-other with regards to their SOC values, however I averaged all of them together to come up with a chart which represents what I believe to be a good general indication. A more accurate method is to measure the specific gravity of each cell within the battery, however for many batteries this is difficult or impossible (AGM batteries, for example).
Occasional dips into the yellow may not be harmful, but continual discharges to those levels will shorten battery life considerably. Just thought it might be helpful to add that one tool I’ve found useful is the little floating balls thing for checking individual cell status in lead acid batteries. I mainly use this system for 12 volt water pumps,a few LED’s and cfl lights and occasionally power tools. My immediate thought about the differences in your two battery banks is that the wally world batteries are newer, or less heavily used than the Trojan.
I do off grid solar for a living, 25 years now and I sent a customer the link to this chart to give him an extra tool to keep tabs of his system. As we use only 50% of the battery we can see that the voltage will still be 24 V at 50% DOD for a 5 Amp load over 10 hours, and therefore we would have consumed 50 Ah. The reason we plot Discharge Capacity (instead of Discharge Time) is that Lithium has a higher and more stable terminal voltage than AGM, so plotting the curves with Discharge Capacity in mind gives a more accurate comparison of the chemistries, showing that Lithium increases useable energy at higher loads due to higher and more stable terminal voltages.
Personally I think the time is right to consider Lithium in the marine industry as a cost effective, reliable, high performance solution. With either zinc-air battery type, the voltage will be too high immediately after turning on the camera—possibly leading to underexposure.
Frans de Gruijter discusses both these factors at some length in his definitive battery-adapter article downloadable here. Is there is a “rule of thumb” for a minimum suggested current, based on the CA parameter? However if it was me I would probably use more of a 4 to 6amp charger on a 12V 20ah battery it is a good middle point not to slow and not to fast. My battery is discharged to less than 8 volts and I would like to charge it but, am not sure how to safely proceed.


If you would also suggest a maintenance charger appropriate to this battery also, so that I never discharge it this drastically again ? In the event that I do acquire another or this one does revive,would also suggest a maintenance charger appropriate to this battery also, so that I never discharge one this drastically again ? Measuring and knowing the SOC of a battery or battery bank is useful when applying towards alternative energy, or any other situation where you need to know its condition.
Many (most) alt-energy systems incorporate a DC-shunt which keeps track of SOC by monitoring the current flow in and out of the battery or battery bank, which is a very accurate way to track state-of-charge. To be somewhat accurate, the battery should be in that condition for an hour or two before taking a measurement, while for a more accurate measurement you should wait 6 hours up to 24 hours. Generally speaking, the less you discharge the battery before recharge, the longer the battery will last. The Trojan sounds like it is getting old, and needs more frequent watering and equalizing to keep it functioning. The one thing I would disagree with somewhat from your well written article is concerning the accuracy of state of charge meters.
At the extremes we might have air conditioning running for 10 hours using 10 kW, compared to an LED light using 100 Watts in that time.
Whilst you may consider this a grey area (in part too due to the varying internal resistance of batteries also) it is probably the only true way to compare the technologies.
First let’s compare charge efficiency of Lead Acid on the left to Lithium on the right, during the complete charge cycle. Once you become aware of this effect, you will definitely notice your needle drifting for the first few minutes, even when metering a scene with unchanging light. Let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns we would be more than happy to assist. Most alternative-energy systems are designed to keep the battery bank at least 50% or higher. When batteries are in series they do not necessarily charge at the same rate and can become imbalanced.
Note this does not take into account, the ageing of the batteries, temperature derating or the effect of higher loads.
Charging the last 20% of a lead acid technology battery is always slow and inefficient when compared to Lithium. Good management practices are your insurance against early failure, regardless of the technology used. It is set to equalize every 30 days, however sometimes I have to do it more than that, to bring them all back to green. The plates may have become heavily sulfated enough that the equalize mode can’t get it all off into solution. The equalizing charge ups the charging voltages in order to get enough voltage to the lesser charged batteries in the series chain. With a large pack as shown below to achieve this, it becomes clear just how heavy Lead Acid can be compared to Lithium.
This is borne out in the fuel costs (or whatever charging source you use) in the images further down. I combine the batteries whenever we lose power for more than a few hours so we can run TVs, fans DVD player and lights etc. The standard meter for years has been the Tri-Metric meter but I finally gave up on using them because they arent very accurate unless fine-tuned beyond the level most homeowners are capable of understanding.
Yes it will over charge the higher charged batteries, which is why the equalizing charge is only applied for a short time, however if the system uses a single battery equalization is not required and can be detrimental. You should probably start saving your shekels for a new battery because that one is not going to live much longer. It doesnt help that the manual makes little sense to the layman or that the meter cant read battery voltage and often keeps compounding small errors into bigger ones. It would be wise to buy a desulfator unit for your batteries in order to reverse sulfation of the plates after long periods of less than 100% charge.
The meters that you can get that take their info from the inverter or in the case of Midnite Solar from the charge controller are more accurate because they temperature compensate but they need fine-tuning as well. Just yesterday a customer called because his inverter shut down at 23 volts, a definite low battery but the SOC meter claimed he was at 81% full. I sent him a link to your chart and told him to call Magnum tech support to learn to tweak the meter.



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