Battery Reconditioning: How to Save Your Batteries
Basically everything in our lives runs on some sort of batteries. Cell phones, TV remotes, flashlights, cars. What do you do when those batteries are dead? Unless you are using rechargeable batteries, odds are you will throw them away and you’ll have to buy new ones. While those batteries are sitting in landfills. The chemicals that make them functional can leak into the earth and create a lot of pollution. What if you knew about a way to not only save a few bucks but also prevent excess pollution? That is what battery reconditioning is all about.
What is Battery Reconditioning
Battery reconditioning is the process of reviving old and dead batteries instead of just throwing them away. Reconditioning batteries is a very simple process and anyone can do it. It requires some time to complete and a few tools. When the process is finished, you’ll basically have a fully functional battery. Those old units will have the same power capacity and strength as a brand new one.
You can do this with any battery. Laptops, cars, lead acid, NiCad, cylindricals, whatever. This means, no more buying packs of batteries that set you back almost $7.00 for a pack of four regular batteries. That could be more depending on what type of battery you are going for. Of course, big battery companies will never tell you this because no one would be giving them money. Here, you will learn how to recondition batteries at home. You do not even have to pay someone to do it for you.
How to Recondition Batteries
Let’s run through the process of how you can recondition batteries at your home. Saving a lot of money and a lot of pollution as well. Here are some DIY battery reconditioning methods.
Recondition a Car Battery
Might as well start with, no doubt, a popular request. Refurbishing a car battery. The batteries in your car are very expensive to replace and it is always a pain. Hopefully you will not have to do this for a while, since car batteries, if taken care of, can last a very long time. However, if you forget to turn off your headlights or interior lights, zap goes your battery. The most important thing you need to know about reconditioning car batteries is that this process will give you 70% of the power of a new battery. However, have no fear because this is well more than your car actually needs.
Here is what you will need for this battery reconditioning: distilled water, voltmeter, battery charger, and a syringe.
- Take the battery out and remove the rubber that protects the caps as well as the caps themselves. Depending on the battery, it may have 6 to 7 caps, give or take a few. Remove all of them.
- Fill the battery with the distilled water and recharge it. Do not replace the caps. Put the battery on the charger and charge it for one hour. You should see bubbles on the holes. If you do not see bubbles, reverse the negative and positive wires and wait 2 minutes. Once you see the bubbles, replace the wires to the correct positions and recharge the battery for another 30 minutes.
- One additional thing you can do is try to replace the acid in the battery. Mix a new acid with the distilled water. Then recharge the battery for a few hours. Either way, you will get a fully functional battery that can last almost as long as a brand new one.
Using Epsom salt distilled water in your car battery also works wonders.
Recondition a Laptop Battery
It is always scary when your laptop will not turn on. Realizing that you can not finish that paper on time or even worse, you can’t binge that new Netflix show. Could it be a virus, or did something break? It could also be that the battery is dead. If that is the case, buying a new battery could be just as expensive as buying a new laptop. Luckily, you can recondition these batteries just as you could with your car. There are multiple ways of doing this. Some require more time than others, but all are just as effective.
- Take out the battery and put it in a plastic bag.
- Put it into the freezer for 12 hours.
- Take it out of the freezer and the bag and clean it.
- Put it back into the laptop and charge it fully.
As long as it is not leaking, this version will leave you with a fully functional battery. You can also repeat the process as many times as needed.
- Recharge the battery to 100% and leave the laptop for 2-3 hours.
- Leave the laptop unplugged and wait until the battery is dead.
- Leave it for 5 hours.
- Recharge the battery to 100% again.
This method of battery reconditioning is to increase the battery life and make your laptop more accurate at reading the battery levels. Sometimes, the laptop needs to be “reset” to get a better battery life. This method is more about just recalibrating the laptop and battery than reconditioning the battery. But it is still a good method.
This method of battery reconditioning is another form of tweaking both your laptop’s hard drive and the battery. When a laptop becomes very hot, it can damage the systems. Simply cooling it down can prolong the life of the batter and prevent system damage. Buying a cooling fan and placing it under the laptop is the best solution for this method.
There are a few other methods of battery reconditioning, that either involve recharging the battery and letting it die again and repeating the process or even charging your battery then removing the battery but leaving your computer plugged in. Both have to do with basically resetting the system and “reconditioning” the battery to a point. These reconditioning methods more have to do with the electrical systems in the battery and laptop than altering the interior of the battery.
Reconditioning NiCad Batteries
NiCad batteries, also known as Nickel-Cadmium batteries or rechargeable batteries, are also able to be reconditioned. These batteries get damaged because the sulfur crystals eventually reach both terminals and prevents it from recharging. You will need a flash camera capacitor, battery holder, switch to the capacitor, and an alkaline battery. To do this, it will require a small gadget to be made, but it is very simple. You can reuse it as many times as needed.
- Take the flash camera capacitor and add the battery holder and the switch to. Stick the wires to the black cylinder and connect them to the battery holder and switch.
- Insure that all wires are insulated and that they do not touch anything that can conduct electricity.
- Put the alkaline battery into the capacitor and the NiCad into the holder.
- Lastly, press the switch and wait for the LED to glow. Repeat that step. You should be hearing a sound that means the sulfur crystals are destroyed. Then the battery can be used again.
Reconditioning Lead Acid Batteries
It is safe to say that all batteries are expensive. Lead acid batteries are no different. By reconditioning these, it can save you a lot of money. However, this method of battery reconditioning is a bit dangerous because acid is highly corrosive. So please be careful.
- Remove the battery and open the caps. Depending on the battery, some may have the same rubber protection like the car batteries. Do not replace the caps until the process is completed. This is similar to how to rejuvenate a car battery.
- Add distilled water to the inside of the battery and recharge it. The battery must have between 13 and 14 volts when you measure it with the voltmeter.
- If that does not work, there is a more aggressive method involving replacing the acid in the battery. If you have to do this, just repeat the process of recharging the battery. The battery should be charging for 10 to 12 hours on a slow charger. If you use a faster charger, it can recharge in less than 6 hours.
Remember to wear protective gear like gloves and glasses when replacing the acid as it can easily burn and harm your skin. As with the car battery, you will probably not be able to reach 100% power by taking advantage of battery reconditioning. The battery will be at 70%. This is still enough to power most appliances.
Reconditioning an AA Battery
These are the most common batteries you will come into contact with. AA and AAA batteries are used in the most basic appliances like flashlights, remotes, and many others. These also can be expensive because just a pack of 4 batteries can cost $7.00. However, these can also be reconditioned and is probably the most useful battery to recondition. For this method of battery reconditioning, you will need an awl or sharp nail, syringe, distilled water, and clay or resin.
- The the awl or nail to make two holes along the central node in the middle of the battery. It should be no deeper than ¾ of the length of the battery.
- Use the syringe to inject a few drops of water through one of the holes. The second hole is to allow air to escape.
- Seal the hole with the clay or resin.
There you go, this method should leave you with a working battery. There is another method for battery reconditioning that uses alkaline acid (like the NiCad Batteries).
- Use the awl to remove the back of the battery, remove the metallic rod.
- Drop a few drops of the acid using the syringe into the battery cavity and reinsert the rod.
- Heat the battery for one minute and then cool it down fast, then warm again a little.
Effect on The Environment
As said before, batteries are used in just about everything. Every year, individual Americans throw away about 8 batteries or more. Now individually that may not seem like much, but taking into consideration that there are 326 million people in the United States, it starts to accumulate. Most of these batteries contain cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, manganese, lithium, or potassium. All of these are very hazardous to the environment and to the health of humans. By using battery reconditioning, you can remove a lot of this excess waste and chemicals from being introduced into our Earth.
Whenever batteries are just thrown out with the regular trash instead of being recycled, they end up in landfills. This is where they start to degrade and leak their chemicals into the ground and can run off into the water. Lead and cadmium can only be ingested or inhaled. While mercury can be absorbed through the skin (the use of mercury has greatly declined since 1996). These harmful chemicals seep into the soil, groundwater and surface water from these landfills. They also release excess toxins into the air when they are burned in waste combustors. Cadmium is easily taken up through the plant roots and can end up in fruit, vegetables, and grass. When these chemicals end up in the water, it is then drank by animals and humans. This causes many illnesses in animals and humans. These illnesses and health problems include nausea, abdominal pain, liver and kidney damage, skin irritation, headaches, asthma, nervousness, decreased IQ in children, and cancer. Potassium can also cause severe chemical burns affecting the eyes and skin.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycling batteries is a highly better choice than disposing of them in the trash. These advantages include the saving of natural resources, energy savings, reduces pollution, reduces landfills, generates income, reduces imports. There are also many places that you can take dead batteries to be properly disposed of. These organizations in charge of this is an even better solution than regularly recycling batteries. Many electronic stores usually accept dead batteries and some will even pay you for them or offer a discount on the purchase of new batteries.
However, the best idea is battery reconditioning. Sure the process can be a little time consuming, but it saves you money and saves from creating more pollution. It can also act as an interesting weekend project for you and your children. Just remember to always stay safe, especially when working with alkaline acid. Wear the correct protection.