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daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

Harbor Freight 35 AH AGM battery

This morning,I tested 4 of these batteries ( »harborfreight.com/12 ··· 680.html ). They all had June, 2014 date codes and they were all about 13.05 V, so they were fully-charged. The packages were factory-sealed at the time that I opened them, so nobody had used them before.

A good battery of this size should measure about 400 CCA on a Midtronics PBT-300 (or similar) conductance tester, but these all measured around 215 CCA (about what I would expect an 18 AH battery to measure).

A new battery will gain perhaps 20% capacity after it breaks in, but it will not double, meaning that these batteries will never have the current delivery that they should.

Pretty sad that these measure scarcely better than the 3-year-old, abused batteries that were in the electric mobility scooter I bought recently.

Perhaps these were all from a bad batch and a future shipment might measure better, but I have no way to know if this is the case.

Tursiops_G
Technoid
MVM
join:2002-02-06
Norwalk, CT

Tursiops_G

MVM

I don't believe those batteries are really designed for High Current discharge (Engine Cranking), but more for Standby/Cyclic use...
Try a 20-Hour discharge test to verify their Amp/Hour capacity.
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

When the scooter goes up a hill, the battery needs to deliver some current. In a solar installation (which is what they are advertised for), the inverter will demand current under a high-load condition.

Obviously impossible to perform anything but a quick conductance test in the store.

Another 35 AH battery (at a different store) read over 500 CCA; it had small (about 8-32) terminal screws, so it was definitely not intended for automotive applications (it plainly said Deep Cycle on it). Unfortunately, it had no carrying handle (a must-have for me), while the HF battery does have a handle.
daveinpoway

daveinpoway

Premium Member

It occurs to me that the original scooter batteries (Chinese-made ones from a company called Sunbright Battery) must have been around 400 - 500 CCA when they were first installed, since they measure around 200 CCA after 3 years of abuse.

I am not familiar with Sunbright, but they must make a pretty good battery if it can stand extensive abuse and still deliver a decent amount of current when required. It is also possible that Invacare tested all of the batteries they received and only installed the best ones (rejecting the others).

DrStrange
Technically feasible
Premium Member
join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT

DrStrange to daveinpoway

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to daveinpoway
That's kind of pricey for a substandard product. Thanks for the warning.

The equivalent from Universal Battery [UB12350] is $5 less [with free shipping] at several sites online. I bought one of these at a hamfest a couple of years ago. I can run VHF/UHF communications gear [50W FM] for a couple of weeks between charges. I've also jump-started a few dead auto batteries with it, which doesn't seem to tax it very much.
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

2 recommendations

daveinpoway

Premium Member

With the 25% discount coupon, the HF battery is only about $52, which makes it a good deal (if it is designed and built properly, which does not appear to be the case [at least for the June, 2014 production run]).

For light-duty use (such as powering a few light bulbs), these batteries might work fine, but I would not depend on them for powering a motor (either directly or via an inverter). If a surge of current is required, the battery voltage will drop too much.

It would be educational to weigh both a HF and a high-quality Size U1 battery- if the HF is significantly lighter, this will indicate that they skimped on the active materiel (both to save money on purchasing the lead and also to cut down on the shipping costs from China).
TheMG
Premium Member
join:2007-09-04
Canada
MikroTik RB450G
Cisco DPC3008
Cisco SPA112

TheMG to daveinpoway

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to daveinpoway
I wouldn't expect miracles from a cheap Harbor Freight battery. Heck, I can't even find a datasheet for it anywhere.

It is possible that to reduce cost, the manufacturer of the battery has reduced the number of plates in the battery. This would lead to less available instantaneous discharge current (CCA).

It may or may not still meet its 35Ah specification. Only a discharge test would determine that.

Anyways, personally I wouldn't touch such a battery with a ten foot pole. With no manufacturer info/datasheet available, you have absolutely ZERO guarantee of what kind of performance to expect from the battery.

Save yourself the trouble and spend the money on a decent battery from a reputable manufacturer.
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

As previously mentioned, a weight comparison between this battery and a high-quality one would be interesting, since that will show if the HF battery has less/smaller plates.

I saw something online where it was stated that this is a Universal-brand battery with a different label, but I don't know how this was verified. Also, the Chinese manufacturers have a way of lowering the quality over time- perhaps the HF and Universal batteries were internally identical at one time, but the specs for the HF were later dialed down.

Since a discharge test is obviously impossible in the store, a quick conductance test was all I could perform. Since current delivery (to feed the motor when the scooter has to go up a hill) is important, this test will be relevant for my application.

mackey
Premium Member
join:2007-08-20

mackey

Premium Member

Just a theory, but it could also be the batteries that failed Universal QC allowing HF to pick them up for pennies on the dollar. Not sure if they would actually do that though.

/M
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

I suppose that something like this might have happened, but nobody from HF or Universal is likely to ever discuss it, so there is no way to prove or disprove this.

Given that the handle on the HF battery looks the same as the one on the Universal, it is possible that Universal manufactures these (to HF's specs). It is unlikely that HF sells enough of these batteries to have their own factory, so they would have made arrangements with some manufacturer to have the batteries made for them.

Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium Member
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT

Subaru

Premium Member

HF makes little to nothing in the store..

Anonuser
join:2003-01-03
Milwaukee, WI

Anonuser to daveinpoway

Member

to daveinpoway
said by daveinpoway:

This morning,I tested 4 of these batteries ( »harborfreight.com/12 ··· 680.html ). They all had June, 2014 date codes and they were all about 13.05 V, so they were fully-charged. The packages were factory-sealed at the time that I opened them, so nobody had used them before.

A good battery of this size should measure about 400 CCA on a Midtronics PBT-300 (or similar) conductance tester, but these all measured around 215 CCA (about what I would expect an 18 AH battery to measure).

A new battery will gain perhaps 20% capacity after it breaks in, but it will not double, meaning that these batteries will never have the current delivery that they should.

Pretty sad that these measure scarcely better than the 3-year-old, abused batteries that were in the electric mobility scooter I bought recently.

Perhaps these were all from a bad batch and a future shipment might measure better, but I have no way to know if this is the case.

For starters, those batteries are storage batteries, and meant for their Portable solar systems that HFT sells. Second, I would NEVER purchase those batteries. Those batteries are sitting on the shelf for WHO KNOWS how many months. And since they are in a sealed box, they are not BEING MAINTAINED. for proper lead acid storage, they must be kept full and topped off with power. Without that, they just sulfate away and loose capacity and useful life.

aurgathor
join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA

aurgathor

Member

said by Anonuser:

Those batteries are sitting on the shelf for WHO KNOWS how many months.

According to the date code and voltage, this was not the case.
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

Agreed- the ones I tested were definitely very recent vintage (June, 2014) and fully-charged (over 13 V).

It is also unknown how many battery stores bother to periodically recharge the batteries that they have in stock (even though they should do this).
iknow_t
join:2012-05-03

iknow_t to daveinpoway

Member

to daveinpoway
said by daveinpoway:

It occurs to me that the original scooter batteries (Chinese-made ones from a company called Sunbright Battery) must have been around 400 - 500 CCA when they were first installed, since they measure around 200 CCA after 3 years of abuse.

I am not familiar with Sunbright, but they must make a pretty good battery if it can stand extensive abuse and still deliver a decent amount of current when required. It is also possible that Invacare tested all of the batteries they received and only installed the best ones (rejecting the others).

you didn't measure them when first installed, so that's an assumption.. but if the batteries installed last a long time with 200 CCA then the HF battery which has 215 CCA should last a long time too. you can run it around your yard a bit, and see how long the battery lasts, if worst comes to worst, you'll just have to push it back to the house if the batteries go dead.. but I really don't think those kind of batteries were made for starting loads...
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

This morning, at a flea market, I ran across a 35 AH battery; it was plainly marked as "Not for Automotive Use", so it was not intended for engine starting applications.

Unlike the Harbor Freight product, this one was designed and built right, since it measured 400 CCA (using the same tester that I had used on the HF batteries). So, it is quite likely that the original Sunbright/Invacare batteries started off at around that level.

Unfortunately, the seller only had one and his asking price was too high to keep this one sitting around until a mate could be located, so I left it behind. If he had two, I would have been a lot more interested.
iknow_t
join:2012-05-03

1 edit

iknow_t

Member

said by daveinpoway:

This morning, at a flea market, I ran across a 35 AH battery; it was plainly marked as "Not for Automotive Use", so it was not intended for engine starting applications.

Unlike the Harbor Freight product, this one was designed and built right, since it measured 400 CCA (using the same tester that I had used on the HF batteries). So, it is quite likely that the original Sunbright/Invacare batteries started off at around that level.

Unfortunately, the seller only had one and his asking price was too high to keep this one sitting around until a mate could be located, so I left it behind. If he had two, I would have been a lot more interested.

actually, if the scooter can draw even 200 amps, that's a racing scooter, be careful.. it probably only draws 35 amps.. at the very most..
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

Of course the scooter does not draw anywhere close to 200 amps, but testing a battery gives me an idea of the quality of construction.

I cannot speak for other people, but my hard-earned money is not going to be spent on a new battery which has test results that are not much better than those of an old, abused one.

Experience (confirmed yet again today by the battery I encountered at the flea market) has told me that a properly-made AGM deep-cycle battery (in good condition) should have a CCA reading which is at least 10 times the AH rating, so I do not feel like accepting less, regardless of whether I actually need the capacity or not.
iknow_t
join:2012-05-03

iknow_t

Member

said by daveinpoway:

Of course the scooter does not draw anywhere close to 200 amps, but testing a battery gives me an idea of the quality of construction.

I cannot speak for other people, but my hard-earned money is not going to be spent on a new battery which has test results that are not much better than those of an old, abused one.

Experience (confirmed yet again today by the battery I encountered at the flea market) has told me that a properly-made AGM deep-cycle battery (in good condition) should have a CCA reading which is at least 10 times the AH rating, so I do not feel like accepting less, regardless of whether I actually need the capacity or not.

but here is some interesting info that suggests you may not want that.
For a deep cycle application, using a deep cycle battery is a much better alternative than using a starting battery because the deep cycle battery will have a much longer service life when deeply (50% to 80%) discharged because the plates are thicker.

7.8.3. For car batteries, select the battery with CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) that will meet (or just exceed the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation), or is best suited for the coldest temperatures encountered in your climate. This is because more CCA requires greater plate surface area and in order to fit more surface area in the same space, this means thinner plates. Thinner plates will normally cause shorter overall service life. Do not substitute CA (Cranking Performance Amps), MCA (Marine Cranking Amps), or HCA (Hot Cranking Amps) for CCA. In hot climates, buying batteries with double or triple your vehicle's cranking amp requirements is usually a waste of money. Unless starting batteries are used in extremely cold climates, increased CCA is required to crank a sluggish engine and over come inefficiency of a cold battery. James W. Douglas' recommendation in his February 2000 article, Battery Selection--A Consumers Guide, in The Battery Man magazine, is:

"The sleek, aerodynamic designs have low cooling airflow through the engine compartment and that small in stature battery with high cold crank [amps] will have many very thin lead plates just to get the necessary surface area to make that big cold crank number. It will have a lower volume of electrolyte to provide the cooling necessary for long life and the greater capacity to run the [electrical] systems on the car. All of those thin plates will corrode away and fail long before expected putting the high performance battery's life below that of the lower CCA rated battery with the lower cost. Your best rule-of-thumb is, if it meets the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) recommendation, buy it. Look for the highest reserve capacity [RC] battery that meet your CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) requirement for your climate."
»batteryfaq.org/
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

Most of what you included (Article 7.8.3) applies to car batteries, not deep-cycle ones.

For a mobility scooter or wheelchair, a decent current delivery is needed to cope with momentary high motor loads. With my present batteries (which measure in the same vicinity as the Harbor Freight ones), if I go up a hill, the voltage meter on the tiller will drop down significantly; if the batteries could deliver more current, the voltage would be more stable under these conditions.

Since the HF batteries do not measure all that much higher than the ones I presently have, installing them would not improve things very much. Two batteries which measure in the 400 CCA range (which is where they should be) would do the job- I just need to find them at a decent price.
JoelC707
Premium Member
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL

JoelC707

Premium Member

Do you have a Batteries Plus nearby? I'd normally suggest a better priced option but since you are concerned about capacity and want to measure the battery you need a walk-in source.

Out of curiosity, what do you consider to be a good price for these? Online, Batteries Plus lists the 12V 35 Ah battery at $86.99 (I don't see any 12v batteries on HF's website off hand to compare with).
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway

Premium Member

The problem with the Werker 35 AH battery (the only thing Batteries Plus presently sells) is that it has a flimsy plastic handle (basically intended for installing the battery and then removing it after it has failed); I need to carry these batteries around almost every day and that handle would not hold up.

If the handle cracked and the battery fell, the battery itself might very well be ruined. Worse, it might land on my foot, causing me to have major medical expenses (I already have infected feet, which is why I need the scooter).

The rubberized handle design (used by Universal, Sunbright, Harbor Freight and others) would do the job.

Here is a link to the HF battery: »harborfreight.com/12 ··· 680.html
daveinpoway

daveinpoway

Premium Member

As for price, as low as possible. I have had to go to a hospital 3 times for my feet and I keep getting bills for things that the insurance did not cover, so money is not exactly plentiful right now.

I asked awhile ago if the insurance would pay for a scooter and I was told it would not, so I found one on Craigslist. I then asked if they would at least cover the cost of new batteries for the scooter I bought; again, the answer was "NO". So, this all has to come out of my pocket.
JoelC707
Premium Member
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL

JoelC707

Premium Member

Why are you carrying the batteries around frequently? Anyway, buying online is likely going to kill any savings due to shipping. I've bought from this site before: »batteryspec.com/cgi- ··· oduct=30. It's one of the few that lists a CCA (380) but unfortunately it's out of stock. You can browse their site by device (might be able to enter the make/model of scooter), voltage, capacity, battery dimensions, etc. Might be able to find something that works.
DrStrangLov
join:2012-03-28

DrStrangLov to daveinpoway

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to daveinpoway
Sealed Lead Acid Battery (12V; 35 AH; UB12350)

Cyclic Use: Initial Current = 10.5 amp

Standby Use: 5.25 amp

Mouse over photo

»amazon.com/UPG-D5722 ··· 01VV0318
JoelC707
Premium Member
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL

JoelC707

Premium Member

FWIW those are charge currents, not discharge currents.
iknow_t
join:2012-05-03

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here's the specs on the UB12350 battery. it's only what would be the CCA of a starting battery of 105 amps deep cycle batteries don't have that rating.. so you're looking for something special. »powerupco.com/site/wp-co ··· 2350.pdf CCA and AH are unrelated..
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway to JoelC707

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to JoelC707
I am carrying the batteries around frequently because the scooter stays in the car (inside of the garage), but I bring the batteries inside of the house to charge and store them.

Even if I left the batteries in the garage, I do not have a lift to carry the scooter on the rear of my car (these are expensive, even used ones on Craigslist), so I have to take the scooter apart to put it into my car and then put it back together to use it. Part of this operation involves removing the batteries from the scooter and putting them back in again- I have to move the batteries around to do this.

Some scooters have the batteries installed inside of plastic housings- here, you carry the housing (which has its own handle), so there is no need for any handle on the batteries. My scooter is not built like this, however.
JoelC707
Premium Member
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL

JoelC707

Premium Member

Ahh OK, that makes sense. I assumed you were leaving the batteries in the scooter and charging them there but if you are taking them inside to charge then yeah a sturdy carrying handle will certainly be advisable.
daveinpoway
Premium Member
join:2006-07-03
Poway, CA

daveinpoway to iknow_t

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to iknow_t
I guess there is some misunderstanding- the conductance tester is not a load tester- it basically measures the internal series resistance of the battery. It reads out in CCA (instead of ohms) because this is what the typical automotive technician is familiar with.

So, if we take two batteries- the Harbor Freight one (that reads out as 200 CCA) and a good-quality 35 AH deep-cycle AGM battery (that reads out as 400 CCA), the 200 CCA one will have essentially twice the internal series resistance of the 400 CCA one.

The battery can be modeled as an ideal voltage source (which has zero series resistance) in series with a resistor. The larger this series resistor is, the more the terminal voltage will drop under load.
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