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Lead Acid Battery Equalization

WARNING: Do not equalize  GEL* and AGM** batteries.

Equalizing   (Flooded batteries only)

Equalizing is an overcharge performed on flooded lead acid batteries after they have been fully charged. It reverses the build-up 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 sulphation crystals that might have built up on the plates. If left unchecked, this condition, called sulphation, will reduce the overall capacity of the battery.

Experts recommend that batteries be equalized periodically, ranging anywhere from once a month to once or twice per year. However, We only recommend equalizing when low or wide ranging specific gravity ( .015) are detected after a full battery charge.  Equalizing is hard on the batteries but a necessary maintenance procedure.

*   GEL= A lead acid battery with a gelling compound added to the electrolyte to make the battery spill-proof.
**AGM= Absorbed Glass Mat

VRLA (Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid)
batteries which are semi-sealed with a valve that limits internal pressure may be equalized.  It is almost impossible to replace lost water due to repeated venting. Check with your battery manufacturer.

Benefits of an equalizing cycle

  • Electrolyte stratification (uneven concentration of electrolyte) is eliminated.

  • Reduction or elimination of sulphation crystals on the plates.

  • Restores battery capacity lost due to sulphation.

Step by Step Equalization:

  • Verify the batteries are flooded type.

  • Start with a fully charged battery that isn't hot from just being charged up.

  • Recheck that electrolyte is at proper level.

  • Make sure that there is sufficient ventilation. Explosive Oxygen and Hydrogen gasses are emitted during equalization.

  • Remove all loads from the batteries.

  • Connect battery charger.

  • Set charger or inverter/charger for the equalizing voltage.

  • Start charging batteries.

  • Batteries will begin gassing and bubbling vigorously.

  • Take specific gravity readings every hour when the specific gravity has not dropped for the last hour the equalization is complete.

  • Closely monitor battery temperatures with particular attention to temperature difference between batteries.

  • Equalization is complete when specific gravity values no longer rise during the gassing stage.

Reminder, great care must be taken.  Venting of the Explosive gases is really important.  Also extremely important is to protect your eyes and skin from the corrosive sulfuric acid electrolyte.

Many chargers do not have an equalization setting therefore this procedure may not be able to be performed by your charger.

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Last modified: January 12, 2023