Was just reminded of this from another thread.
BATTERY SAFETY Part extracted from the MTFCI Forum, Nov. '03
Tim M: He went to un-hook the new 12v battery from the charger .... KA-BOOM! It sounded like a pistol went off in the shop. When he unhooked the charger, a spark set off the hydrogen fumes from the battery and blew the caps off and the side out. I was hollering, "Is it in your eyes?" but he couldn't hear me because he was deaf from the explosion. Got him out to the hose and washed his head (told him to get the baking soda but he wouldn't); just burned his forehead a little. He was happy today that his hat is OK.
Doogie: we set the battery on the charger, and forgot about it for about a week. Boiled it dry almost. I never bothered to check. Turned the key and KA-BOOM! Battery exploded.
Alan P: While working on my riding mower, I leaned over to crank it and BANG !! Blew the entire top off the battery, showering me with plastic and acid, The force of the explosion ruptured my left eardrum and cancelled a much anticipated dive trip to the Keys. Gave me a healthy respect for lead-acid batteries, and the explosive properties of hydrogen.
Marvin: Yes it can and will happen. I am a slow learner as I have blown up 5 of them: 6 volt, 12 volt, and one 24. I am still in one piece but lucky. I was leaning over the 24 and all that saved me was it blew the bottom and sides out and not the top. My hearing isn't too good anymore.
Bove: I learned that lesson when I was 15. I charged batteries with a Nash generator driven by an electric motor. All I did was remove the wire from the battery after charging and BANG! The battery side was blown completely off and I ran to the cellar sink. I survived just fine and never did that again. One should learn something every day.
Jackie Z: Took the three mile drive down to Wally World one hot summer afternoon in my '77 Granada. Was in the store about an hour. When I got into the car and hit the switch, I heard the starter pull in and then there was one loud THUD and the right hand front corner of the hood jumped up. I then had no further electric power. I found that the battery case top was now seperated from the body of the battery on two sides.
Ed, MI: For you tough folks out there, these batteries aren't filled with hydrocloric acid, the stuff in your stomach, but SULFURIC acid, which is much, much, stronger stuff. You play and you WILL pay.
BG: I left a "no maintenance" battery on my Sears 6-amp charger for several days, and it blew while I was away. Made quite a mess. Does anybody have an idea why this happened?
Ricks: Fixed rate chargers are bad news. Once a battery is fully charged, it takes only a few milliamps to keep it up. . It will absorb additional current, but that all goes into heat, and into breaking down the water into hydrogen and oxygen - in the perfect ratio to explode. 2.3 volts per cell is the magic number not to exceed if you want to keep your battery a long time, and not boil out the water. That's 6.9 volts for a 6 volt battery, and 13.8 for a 12 volt battery. Automatic chargers are the only good ones. Schauer had the first good patents, having bought them from my late neighbor nearly 40 years ago. . Chargers are like comparing a third brush generator to a modern one. If a charger doesn't say "Automatic," use it only for metal plating and de-rusting.
When an automatic charger is connected to a fully charged battery, there is almost no current flowing, and no spark when disconnected. . Nevertheless, always interrupt current flow a safe distance from the battery. Unplug the charger from the wall first.
For safety sake, and for the life of your battery, use only Automatic chargers. . Don't even use a trickle charger or "Battery Maintainer" unless it says Automatic - and its detailed description specifies "float charge" or less than 100 milliamps final current. They get ridiculous prices for those battery maintainers, and for less money you can get a 6 or 10 amp Schauer Automatic that will safely maintain a battery indefinitely.
I've mounted cigar lighter receptacles out of sight on the front and rear of the old brass picup, and under the front bumper of the wife's saloon, so I can keep either one or both fully charged. . I then have an anchored cable going to the Schauer Automatic. As the car leaves the garage, the cable drops safely to the ground.
The hydrogen and oxygen that explode batteries are released only when a battery is charged at too high a rate, or overcharged. Otherwise, you would be adding water all the time.
* Jump-starting: always connect the hot side first, then connect the cold side to the bumper or engine - away from both batteries.
* Charger: always connect to hot side of battery, then cold side, then apply charger power.
* Disconnecting battery: Don't touch hot side - just disconnect cold side, preferably away from the battery. Once the cold side is ungrounded, no current can flow.
* Make sure all hot battery connections in your car are covered by insulators at all times. This will protect from the wayward wrench.
* Inspect your battery for signs of leakage - liquid splatters or corroded terminals. Those are sure signs of dangerous overcharging.
*One more precaution: a battery can develop a short in a cell at any time. When that happens, The remaining cells get overcharged - even by an automatic.
Look at the names:
Tim M is Tim Moore
Bove is Kenneth Bove
Marvin was a second cousin in Mont.
Who else is left?
I was on a tour where we stopped for lunch. After lunch one guy went to start his T and there was a buh - BOOM that sounded like a grenade going off. His battery was gone. We learned afterwards that his generator was set to charge at 10 amps, so it was really luck that it didn't happen while he was driving. There was nothing left of the battery except the terminals and some shards of plastic.
We shorted out the generator, started the T on "MAG" with a couple pulls on the crank and he continued the tour.
So they tow in this truck and tell us it's a no start. Turns out the starter was jammed on and it cranked until the batts were dead. Kept cranking even with the key off. No body knew this and the starter was still jammed on even though the batts were dead. Luckily for 2 things: 1: there was a remote jumper hook-up near the front bumper and 2: the metal battery box cover was in place over the 3 batteries in the truck (hooked up in parallel. 12 vts w/ plenty of amps). Hooked up the jumper batteries at the remote plug and BOOM. 3 at once. Tops completely removed on all 3 batts.
I hate it when that happens.
Hi all; Has one of you ever seen an explodid Optima Battery If not, then it is a reason to use Optima's.
Optima is the way to go, it is a gel inside, not liquid. I blew up a standard liquid 12 volt battery once, but luckily was in running distance to the water hose to wash the acid off my arms.
If only they weren't so darned expensive! Hurts.
We use Optima on every car we build. On modern cars you would not believe the places we have installed them, even upside down on some cars.
There is no such thing as a "cold side", at least to me there isn't.
You will still get a spark when you connect and disconnect the ground cable if the charger is running.
I stood in front of a mid fifties Ford one cold day when we were getting the car started after it failed to start outside.
I was using a powerful charger to boost the battery to spin the V8 over.
It would start but it would die as soon as the guy inside would let off the gas pedal.
I had my head near the radiator cap looking under the air filter while turning the idle screw to set up the idle a little when the other guy reconnected the battery charger.
I got battery acid in my eyes, the other guy turned me around as there was a sink against the wall and a couple feet of hose on the faucet that we used to fill the coffee pot.
He directed water into my eyes in just a couple of seconds after the explosion and I kept working the rest of the day.
Wear safety glasses when monkeying around with machinery.
I know that Optima's are expensive, But my eye's are MORE EXPENSIVE.
Question: I've heard for a long time the Optima batteries are the way to go, as Anthonie points out above. I'm curious as to why they don't explode. I imagine the gel inside works with lead, but that's a pure guess. If it's accurate, then why don't they produce hydrogen like lead/acid batteries. Or is it a completely different (and equally effective) method of power storage that just does not produce the offending gas?
Found this in the FAQ section of the Optima website:
"When used with a properly regulated constant voltage charging system (such as an alternator), the OPTIMA will not emit hydrogen gas. However, gassing can occur when charging at excessive voltage levels or in extreme high-temperature conditions. In automotive applications, this typically will not happen if the alternator/regulator stays below 15 volts."
(What about 6 volt batteries, and does this mean that using a cutout instead of a voltage regulator could be particularly bad if the charge rate is set too high?)
They also mention that the battery can release gas thru 'safety valves' if greatly overcharged. I take this to mean that there should be less risk of (literally) sparking an explosion by making or breaking the connection of a battery cable or charger because there should not be any hydrogen gas outside the battery under "normal" conditions.
No mention of whether there is hydrogen INSIDE the battery under normal conditions, although I presume there is.
There is more discussion of the battery types, AGM vs. gel cell, etc. on the Optima site.
I would wear eye protection regardless of the battery type. Any 'safety' system can fail.
For purposes of explosion comparison it would be foolish to assume that AGM type batteries (Optima is one) are way safer than normal wet cell type lead acid batteries. Most plastic cased AGM batteries have a seal to keep in corrosive fumes but that seal is only about 8 PSI so if you overcharge them they blow the seal and out come the stored fumes mostly Hydrogen to worry about. You might note that the concerns of overcharging and venting Hydrogen are basically the same warnings reworded in various ways for all of the lead acid batteries. AGM batteries won't dump acid if you lay them on their side or turn them over but for purposes of this discussion thread you would be totally wrong to suggest that your Optima is perfectly safe compared to any other lead acid battery. The problem is that overcharge produces Hydrogen for both types. The earliest AGM type batteries developed by Gates Energy products had metal jackets and were sealed to 50 PSI and those were very difficult to make explode because the Hydrogen couldn't get out. That same company pioneered the plastic cased versions but they were only rated at 8 PSI and these rating really were about the safety seal that they had installed in them. Be careful and check out your charging system carefully whether it is the car generator or alternator or the AC powered charger of whatever type you think is OK. The main advantage of AGM is that you can both charge and discharge the battery in any position while other Gel Cell type lead acid batteries can be discharged in any position but must be upright when charged. Unless you drive your T upside down - you might be wasting money buying an AGM type battery since just like Halogen bulbs - most of the sales claims are like buying sizzle instead of steak. The AGM technology is great but its advantages are wasted on Model T's when considering starting power full size automotive versions. For small under the seat ignition starting batteries then their ability to be mounted most anyplace is great and useful.
Just my .02