Whether it’s a car battery, a laptop battery or any other type of battery, it’s not pleasant when it breaks down.
You drive a car in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly battery stops working. Or, you’re waiting for a very important call and your phone shuts down because of the bad battery.
You must admit that no one wants to be that person, especially not you.
Here’s the deal:
It turns out, you don’t have to be that person. Because I’ll tell you how to recondition batteries at home.
Have you ever heard about battery reconditioning? This can be done from your home, believe it or not. And includes all types of batteries:
- Lead Acid car batteries
- Deep-Cycle Marine Batteries
- Ni-Cad batteries
- Ni-MH batteries
- Lithium Ion batteries (Li-Ion)
- Lithium Polymer batteries (Li-Po)
- Gel batteries
On this page I will show you where I learned all of this, and I will talk about how you can actually bring dead batteries back in life again.
- 1 Is it possible to recondition your own batteries?
- 2 Let’s talk about battery reconditioning methods
- 3 Why you need to recondition your batteries?
- 4 What tools you’ll need to recondition your batteries?
- 5 How to recondition lead acid battery?
- 6 How to recondition Deep-Cycle Marine Batteries?
- 7 How to recondition Ni-Cad batteries?
- 8 How to recondition Ni-MH batteries?
- 9 How to recondition a laptop battery?
- 10 Hybrid battery reconditioning
Is it possible to recondition your own batteries?
Short answer is yes, it is possible. And entire battery industry don’t want you to know that. Warranty of a typical car battery is anywhere from 2 to 3.5 years, and after that period chemistry inside your battery just do its job and battery fail. Of course, they just want you to buy a new one. And for most people only solution is to actually buy a new car battery.
Doesn’t have to be that way…
Ok, why does nobody talking about battery reconditioning?
This is because the entire battery industry would collapse. If each of us started repairing our own batteries they wouldn’t sell anything.
Battery reconditioning procedure is a very simple process and anybody can do it on their own. You just need to follow instructions.
You will also need some simple equipment. And good news is that you probably already have some of those tools if not all of them.
How does this sounds to you?
Your dead battery you want to throw away can be reversed into a brand new one.
Sounds great, right?
Let’s talk about battery reconditioning methods
There are couple of battery types out there. So, different types and sizes of batteries requires different reconditioning methods. From shocking a battery with a higher voltage than they really are, to deep charging cycle, to replacing electrolytes entirely.
Batteries stops working for couple of reasons. One of which is formation of crystals and corrosion build up. This one prevents electrons to flow throughout the battery. This happen because of the chemical reaction between electrolytes and plates inside of the battery.
There are also batteries that suffers from so called memory effect. This batteries losses capacity slowly because they are repeatedly charging, but just partially discharging, and this is wrong way of maintaining a battery.
And there are others, if they are discharged too much they will appears to be dead. To prevent this you must know what type of battery you have, to know how to charge/discharge them.
Want to know the best part?
All of batteries with this problems can be reversed, and as I mentioned before, you will recondition a completely dead battery, and that battery will be like a brand new one. You’ll just need to follow simple instructions.
Why you need to recondition your batteries?
Now that you know that this can be done, you need to recondition your batteries not just because you can, and because it’s a very easy process.
You can actually save a lot of money by reconditioning your batteries. Every time your battery fail, you will recondition it instead of buying a new one. Not to mention that this is environmental friendly, because you will repair them and use it again, instead of throwing them away. Recycling is good thing, but recycling procedure in factories is very toxic and have negative effect on nature.
By reconditioning your own batteries there’s no negative impact on nature.
- You can recondition them
- It’s an easy process
- You will save a lot of money
- There’s no negative effect on nature by reconditioning batteries
What tools you’ll need to recondition your batteries?
Like in any job tools are essential for properly done work. And before you start battery reconditioning you wanna make sure to acquire those tools.
Great news is that for a common batteries that you have laying around your house, you don’t need any special tools.
This is what you need though:
- Pliers and flathead screwdriver
- Multimeter, to test volts and amps
- Battery charger, depending on a battery you reconditioning
- Safety glasses, for obvious reasons
- Rubber gloves acid resistant
- Jumper wires for tapping procedure
- Steel wool and sandpaper to clean corroded battery terminals
- To make your own electrolytes solution you will also need Epsom salt and Distilled water
- Baking soda
- Plastic Funnel
- Plastic container for acid disposal
As you can see you probably already have half if not all of this at your house.
If you plan to be serious about battery reconditioning or even start a business I will also recommend some additional equipment:
- Smart charger
- Battery load tester
- Battery analyzer
- Battery Hydrometer
- Post cleaner (terminal)
- Independent external DC power source
- Soldering Iron
- Soldering tin lead wire
Every business has some initial investment and you should acquire all from this list if you want to be serious about battery reconditioning job.
How to recondition lead acid battery?
A word of caution!
Lead acid batteries are dangerous to work with, because they contain acid and if you spill it on your skin you will get burns. But, in the other hand if you follow instructions you should be just fine. This is very easy procedure but you should be very careful.
This is most common battery type, and you want to recondition it for obvious reasons. Without one, your car can’t start an engine, and it is so important to have working one, in a good condition. This batteries are expensive, so it’s better to recondition them to last few more years than to buy a new one straight away.
Before you actually start reconditioning procedure you should first take some testings.
Let’s see how lead acid battery reconditioning works!
- Safety first! Always put your safety glasses to protect your eyes, and also put on acid resistant rubber gloves to protect your skin. You should also wear long sleeves and pants, again to prevent acid spill on your skin.
- Before taking a measurements, charge your battery for 24h, on a slow charging settings.
- Take a measurement with a multimeter. Set it on Volts settings and put positive lead on a positive terminal of a battery and negative lead on a negative terminal of a battery. If readings are below 12.6V after charging for 24h, then you should proceed with the next step.
- This is the part where you actually need to wear glasses and gloves from now on. Every battery is a little different. On the top of each one, there are plastic caps. Each cap closes one cell of a battery. It will either be 6 individual caps or it will be 3 merged caps in a group of 2. Take a flathead screwdriver and open this caps. With a flashlight and a naked eye check the level of electrolytes. If reading is well below rating, add distilled water to the top and recharge battery another 24h. Do not put caps back for now. If it’s well below 12.6V after charging, proceed with the next step.
- Since protective caps are already opened, take a car battery and under the plastic container turn battery upside down to remove all of the acid electrolytes from it. When it’s removed make a mixture of distilled water and baking soda. Take a 10 oz of baking soda and mix it in a 1 gal of a distilled water. In a small plastic dish mix all 10 oz of baking soda with a little of distilled water. When baking soda dissolves, add all of the mixture in the remaining of distilled water. Use funnel to add the mixture into the battery cells. Put caps back and shake the battery for a 30 seconds or so. After that remove caps once again and dump all the mixture into the container. Baking soda neutralize the acid.
- In this step make mixture with the distilled water and epsom salt. Take 15 oz of epsom salt and dissolve it in a small amount of warm water first. Add this to the remaining of an 1 gal of distilled water. Again use funnel to add this mixture into the car battery cells.
- Charge your battery for another 24h and leave caps off, because mixture inside will raise up when heat up.
- After 24h, test battery volts again with the multimeter. If it’s reading a 12.6V your battery is reconditioned. And you will have it at least another 12 months, if not more of good use of it.
- Next step is to use battery load tester, to see how many cold cranking amps battery can output. When you run a load test if it shows well below the actual battery ratings, you should cycle your battery. Put it in a some kind of load, spare car headlights should do, and discharge it to about 10.5 Volts. After that charge it again for 24h, or when charger shows that battery is fully charged. After you cycle the batter, take another load test and cca should improve. If you not satisfied enough, cycle it again till you get desired results, or close enough what says on battery label.
Cold Cranking Amps of a car battery are very important, because that’s the amount of Amps that battery can output at any given time to start a car engine. If you managed to achieve 12.6V but not enough cca you should watch this video from ez battery reconditioning and proceed from there.
How to recondition Deep-Cycle Marine Batteries?
This type of batteries are similar to a lead acid car batteries. They contain lead plates and electrolytes too. The only difference is that deep-cycle batteries are designed to be repeatedly deeply discharged, using most of its capacity. This is opposite of a lead acid car batteries, which are design to output a quick burst of cranking amps to start an engine.
This type of batteries are mainly use to store energy from a solar panels. And because they can be deeply discharged, they are very good solution for this type of projects.
To recondition deep-cycle batteries it’s a very similar procedure to car batteries, although we can use different approach. Instead of using distilled water and epsom salt mix to replace an electrolytes, you can buy electrolyte replacement for your battery.
- Put battery on a charger for 24h, or until charger shows green light, indicating that battery is full.
- Disconnect charger from positive and negative terminals and leave your battery for a couple of hours to dissipate surface charge to be able to properly test battery with multimeter in volts.
- Use multimeter and set it on Volts. Take a measure. Depending on the number of cells your deep-cycle battery has, Voltage may vary. If it’s a 3 cells battery then Voltage should be 6.35V fully charged. If it’s a 6 cells battery then Voltage should be 12.7V. If it’s well below then you should replace deep-cycle battery electrolytes.
- Now it’s a good time to put your safety glasses and rubber gloves to protect your skin and eyes from acid.
- Open cell caps and dump all of the battery acid down to a container. It’s a good idea to put baking soda inside a container to neutralize an acid. After acid has been neutralized you’re very safe.
- Take a electrolyte replacement that you bought specifically for your deep-cycle battery and slowly pour it inside cell compartments. Do not fill to the top, because while you recharge the battery, liquid will expand and it will create unnecessary pressure. Fill it just above lead plates and put caps back.
- Recharge battery for 24h or till charger show green light, indicating that battery is fully charged. Just by replacing electrolytes, without charging, your battery must show higher voltage output than before.
- In this step your battery is restored and ready to use. But, in some cases battery isn’t fully restored and you must get a step further. You must do a desulfation procedure!
Desulfation procedure must be done because lead plates inside of your battery get corroded and this must be removed. This is a successful method, and will for sure recondition your battery like it was brand new. You can follow instructions from ez battery reconditioning.
How to recondition Ni-Cad batteries?
NIckel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd or Ni-Cad) are older type of batteries. They suffer from memory effect and if they are deeply discharged they can’t be charge with normal charger, unless you recondition them.
Memory effect is a process that battery isn’t completely discharged, but is repeatedly charged. Battery will remember smaller capacity and will hold less and less charge.
This can be prevented by every 10th to 15th charging, you will cycle a battery. Fully charge it and then fully discharge it. And again fully charge it. With this habit your battery will not get memory effect.
But, if you have a battery that suffers from this, you can do battery reconditioning following the next steps:
- You will need some kind of power source that can discharge this type of battery. Flashlight would do for AA or AAA batteries.
- Put battery inside a flashlight and turn it on. Leave it on till the flashlight turn off completely.
- Remove battery from a flashlight and put it in a charger, do not remove it from a charger until battery is fully charged.
- Repeat this cycle several times for best results. Perform this procedure 5 to 10 times depending on a results you’ll get.
And this is how does battery reconditioning work. If you need more advanced tips I highly recommend to check ez battery reconditioning here!
How to recondition Ni-MH batteries?
Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) are newer type of batteries. They don’t contain cadmium, which is very toxic metal, so Ni-MH are much more environmentally friendly than Ni-Cad batteries.
They don’t suffer from memory effect like Ni-Cad does, but if you discharge them too much, they will not just simply charge with a normal charger. You must perform battery reconditioning procedure.
This procedure is very simple, but you must wear some protection:
- Put on protective glasses and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and skin from sparks that will fly around.
- Use 12V car battery charger and set it on a highest Amp range.
- Clamp long metal stick to a positive end, and other long metal stick to a negative end of an battery charger clamps.
- Touch and hold negative end of a battery charger on a negative side of a battery that you want to recondition. With a positive side of a 12V car battery stick clamp, tap on a positive side of a battery. You should expect sparks, so don’t be surprised.
- Repeat tapping 5 to 10 times and then stop.
- Use regular battery charger of that battery and plug it in to charge. Now battery should start charging.
- If not, repeat steps 4 to 6, or until battery start charging. Fully charge it, and you should get working battery.
For more advanced tutorial that I learned from, visit ez battery reconditioning.
How to recondition a laptop battery?
Most of the laptop batteries this days are Lithium Ion batteries. If you use them right, they will last a long time. But in the other hand, if you use them improperly they will lose its capacity and eventually die.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are newer technology so they don’t suffer from memory effect at all. The biggest enemy of Lithium Ion batteries is heat. And there is a way to prevent heat to damage your laptop battery.
First, you must understand a root cause of heat inside your laptop. There are really two things, and those two things are CPU (Central processing unit) and GPU (Graphics processing unit). This two components can produce tremendous amount of heat, and that’s ok for a short period of time. But, if you, for example use some heavy load application such as video rendering apps, which are CPU intensive, and obvious, 3D games which are GPU intensive you will put a lot of heat on your battery too.
So, how to prevent heat to damage your laptop battery?
There are actually three ways:
- If you have removable battery, you can remove it from a laptop, and leave a laptop to get power from a charger. Before remove it make sure that is fully charged, while still cold remove it. When you finish with rendering or playing games, leave your laptop to cool down and then put your battery back in laptop. This will prevent heat to prematurely damage your laptop battery. Note: This can be only done if you have removable battery!
- If you don’t want to remove your laptop battery or you have a non removable battery then you can buy one of those laptop stands that have fans built in to cool down your laptop from below. This is also effective, but first method is more effective than this one. This is ideal for non removable laptop batteries.
- If your laptop battery doesn’t hold charge as before you should re-calibrate your battery. First charge your laptop battery till is fully charged at 100%. Then discharge it till your laptop shuts itself down. Then charge it again till fully charged. With this method you will re-calibrate your laptop battery, and it should hold more charge than before with this procedure.
- This is how to prevent and prolong your laptop battery, but how to recondition them if they are completely dead?
Laptop batteries contains a couple of pairs of 3.7V Li-Ion cell batteries. And most common ones are 18650 Li-Ion cell batteries. If one or more cells goes bad, your entire laptop battery will be dead. So, you should replace this bad cells.
Before you replace cells you should do a tapping method to see if you can recondition it this way. This cell can discharge too much to the point that can’t be charge with a regular laptop charger, so you must use tapping method to bring voltage up.
You can buy this cells for cheap and replace it by yourself, and I will tell you how:
- Put your safety glasses on.
- Remove battery from a laptop.
- Use flathead screwdriver and carefully crack open battery plastic cover. You will expose, typically 6 cells batteries connected in pairs, and then connected to a circuit board.
- Use multimeter and test voltages in each of the cells. You should get readings of max 4.2V individually if they are fully charged. If you get reading 0.5V that cell is bad, and you should replace it, or try tapping method first.
- Use Soldering iron to de-solder bad cell or cells.
- Use good battery and connect with a bad one. Take a wire and connect negative side of a good battery to the negative side of a bad battery. Connect second wire to a positive side of a good battery to a positive side of the bad battery. Wait 10 sec (no more than 30 seconds) and then measure bad battery voltage with a multimeter. If voltage went up above 3.35V, put battery back on its place and solder it back. Proceed to the step 8.
- If battery stays at low voltage replace it with new one and solder it back.
- Put cells back in a plastic casing and snap on a plastic cover.
- Put your battery in a laptop and turn it on, connect charger and charge it fully.
- Re-calibrate laptop battery. Check above how to do it.
And, you’re done. You have fully functional laptop battery again. For more advanced methods check ez battery reconditioning here!
Hybrid battery reconditioning
Hybrid batteries are built for hybrid cars. This cars are predecessors of electric cars that we have today. Hybrid batteries can last up to 250.000 miles and then your car will show check engine light. With a OBD scanner you can quick scan your car to verify that battery need to be replaced.
I will use Toyota Prius as an example. To replace its hybrid batteries at dealership it will cost you around $4000. It’s about a price for a working Prius at good condition. You could actually buy rebuilt hybrid batteries and replace it by yourself for a fraction of a price at dealership.
I wouldn’t suggest you to replace one or more cell modules by yourself because they need to be balanced first. And it’s better to buy rebuild one as an entire hybrid battery and replace it by yourself. Using common tools you can do this job in no time.
I suggest you to watch this video below and follow step by step instructions on how to replace hybrid battery in Toyota Prius hybrid car:
For more advanced instructions check ez battery reconditioning course!