The Survival Podcast Forum

Site Suggestions, Support and Resources => Show Discussions, Fan Mail and Topic Suggestions => Podcast Transcripts => Topic started by: Hootie on December 14, 2012, 08:26:45 AM

Post by: Hootie on December 14, 2012, 08:26:45 AM
The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      1039
DATE:         December 12, 2012



Special Note – Steve put all of the info in these two shows and more into over 5 Hours of professionally produced HD Video that walks you though every single thing about batteries and back up systems you could even want to know.  For all TSP Members these videos are available for only 24.95 at

Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss battery back up systems. As is typical with Steven he did so much research and prep that we had to break this into two episodes. Today we cover everything you will ever need to know to choose the right battery for your needs.

Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.

Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.

Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception.  The work that went into these two shows took over a month of work and an investment of over 3,000 dollars.  Every item mentioned was purchased, tested and personally used by Steve to insure all the systems he teaches you about will preform as expected.

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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Steven’s Websites – All the resources for this show and the 5 hours of HD Video – Get info on all Steven’s Sites – This is for the small still, currently sold out.
Steve on Facebook -

“Revolution is You” by Gregg Yows

Hootie and Moonfire

<intro/housekeeping 0:00 –6:35>
Post by: Hootie on January 19, 2013, 08:17:16 PM
<intro/housekeeping 0:00 –6:35>

Jack Spirko: With that we have a housekeeping wrapped up and I'm stoked. I am so stoked about the show. I would say more, I'm stoked about the two shows together. The complete complete package here. I came to Steve with a simple challenge. I want to build this mobile backup power system in my truck, in the toolbox, and I'm a put this together with the fuel reserves toolbox and all. I am going to have this mobile power station. I know how to do 95% of it perfectly. I want the X factor. I want over the top. I want it to also do solar. I want to isolated off the front charging system, so the two batteries banks are not competing for energy. I can do that. I want to do it right. I wanted to be perfect. I want this to be awesome. Then Steve says, "Sure, I can do that."  He puts together over five hours of video. That after these two podcast, you can buy if you want to, for like $24.95  or something like that. I think he is going to sell it for $35, but for you guys for $25 basically. He puts together over three hours of material here on the air. He starts out with "Lets start with batteries and let's select our batteries." He goes all the way to building the mobile power station by the end of tomorrow show. You're about to get an education in backup power systems, you probably wouldn't get in an entry-level college course, that you would pay a lot of money for. You are about to get that for free. You're to have the opportunity support what Steve does at the end if you want. Pictures of every single thing, five hours of video, wiring diagrams of everything, if you want to add that to this at the end. Steve, he's a trooper. He always bust his ass for this audience. I can tell you for a fact, that nobody puts more effort into prep for the show than Steve. This is something he put together over a month. I'm really excited. I just want to thank him as he comes on the air. And say hey Steve man, welcome back to the survival podcast buddy.


Steven Harris: Thanks Jack, I'm thrilled to be back. I'm really thrilled to be delivering this content to all of your listeners. We got some really outstanding, put your hands on it, do it right now stuff that will answer so many questions for people.


Jack Spirko: You know, I've been kind of pumping this one up for a while. I have people that are basic chomping at the bit, can't wait for this show. The way it came about was, I decided I wanted to build a battery  backup system in my truck. I knew I could do it like 90% right. You would give it that 10% x-factor that takes it over the top. What you have done is beyond what I even expected. A lot of people are going to listen to this at first and go, well you did us a show on telling us how to power your house from your car with an inverter. How is the home battery bank different.


Steven Harris: It's pretty easy and straightforward to power part of your house from your car. You can hook up and you can run lights, fans, TV, radio, etc. The home battery bank is designed to be at home, in one spot.  Nice and warm in the winter, nice and cool in the summer. Ready to give you the power you need for the basics at any time. While powering your house off your car is great and I love it and I advocated tremendously. That car might have to leave. It might have to take someone someplace or you might be not be home at the time when the power fails. Then there you are left in the dark. A battery bank is your own personal energy supply at home, ready to go 24/7. The batteries, you have at home, can be many times the size of the single battery that's in your car. You can put together a battery bank from golf cart batteries from Sam's Club and have a battery bank that's easily 10 to 20 times the energy that is in your one single car battery that is in your car. The battery bank supplement your car power very well. In fact, you can recharge it off your car when needed. Most of all it's there all the time for when you need it. Plus, having a battery bank at home allows you to run like a submarine. I say this all the time. In the morning you turn on your generator. You cool down your refrigerator, You cool down your freezer. You brew a bunch of coffee. You put some food in the microwave. You run your well pump. You take a shower, you take a warm shower if you got national gas heater. Then at the same time you're dumping energy into your battery banks, while your generator is running. After an hour or 2 or 3 of the generator powering, you turn off your generator in the morning and you run silent run deep on just your batteries. You light the house with them. You recharge your AA and AAA batteries and flashlights and your headlamps. You watch a small LCD digital TV or you listen to the radio. You run a small fan keep yourself cool. The main point is, you run generator in the morning and/or you run your generator in the evening. One or both. You do all your stuff. Put energy in your banks, then you run silent run deep.


Jack Spirko:  I have seen all different ways that people build battery banks. I'm sure you're getting give us the best practices when it comes to selecting what types of batteries that we actually want to use. I have seen people use everything from harvested out of junk cars, to batteries are supposed to be specifically for the application, marine batteries, deep cranking batteries, etc. How did people know what are the best battery to pick out for building a back up battery system.


Steven Harris: I've got three major things I'm going to teach you. I made some great new tools to help you understand this in detail. First, I am going to talk about selecting the correct battery for you and your application. Do you want to a flooded lead acid battery? A sealed lead acid battery? Do you want to absorb glass mat or an AGM  battery? Which battery is right for you? What is the acid safety with each battery? Which one is best for your children in your house, or your apartment, etc? Then we're going to take the battery you select and we are going to make a home battery bank with it. In fact, I know how this famous photograph of a battery on my kitchen table in my house, powering all sorts of things. Did you see that photo, Jack?


Jack Spirko: Yeah, look like electronic octopus times four. It was everything you can think of. Every gadget and gizmo out there pluged into this on battery.


Steven Harris: My wife was going, "What are you doing with my iPad? What are you doing with my iPhone? Where is it."


Jack Spirko: It looked like you literally went through your house and found everything you could charge electronically and just looked it up to make a point.


Steven Harris: Yeah, I did. There is an android tablet, iPad, android phone, iPhone, police scanner, AA battery charger, AM/FM radio, two desk lamps, AA headlamp, and I also did one with a little mini TV. All off of one marine battery sitting there, just sipping the energy. That photo has got a lot of traction to it. Now I'm going to teach you on this show how to make a mobile battery bank. One that is mounted in your vehicle, just like Jack said that he wanted. Like in an across bed toolbox in your pickup. No matter where you go, you have a least 1500 W or more of power for anything you want to run. All the way up to and including one of my favorite electric high power devices, an electric chainsaw. This battery bank gets recharged as you drive down the road. Then when you stop, you can use it. Or if you want you can drive down the road and bake bread with one of my favorite bread makers in the bed of the truck, two or three of them at the same time if you want. This is ideal for TSP disaster response teams you were talking about, Jack.


Jack Spirko: I think this is a great for that. A lot of the field level members. Right now we are still in the formation stages with that. We set up a board of directors and we're setting up kind of a command-and-control central of the people, that are mostly going to be stationary and doing the comm's during this. The people that are out there as responders, that are going to be going out and actually helping people. You saw the pictures, Steve right? Of people in New York City that were, you know, ecstatic just because someone ran a power strip out their window. You know 10 members of the team showing up with 10 trucks with mobile power. Especially if you accompany that with small inverter generators, is another backup redundancy. You could bring in a lot of power with that. For me personally I want for that, but I like the hunt, I like to fish, and I go to some doggon remote areas. Having that kind of power on demand at all times is absolutely something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I had a few concerns about separation from the main batteries in the vehicle. Make sure that it is isolated right. Then I said hell man, throw solar on top of that. You've done the whole thing, right?


Steven Harris: I've done the whole thing and every moment of every day, I've been working on this for last five weeks. I was always saying to myself, "How was someone else going to repeat this? Did I show it to you correctly so you can do it? How was someone in the disaster response team going to be using this? Did I put in enough tools? Did I put in enough backup? Did put in enough meters? Did I make it so your average normal person, who heard the podcast and put together a battery bank, will they know everything that's going on? Or will your wife or your brother or whoever is helping you, working with you, know exactly what's going on just by looking at the battery bank?" And I'll get into that. Boy, I mean since Jack brought out this disaster response team thing, I really kept that in my mind with everything I'm telling you today and what I have done in the video. I'm going to teach you everything you could possibly know, right here right now on TSP, about making a battery bank for your homework or for your vehicle. All this of course is 100% free. It's my charity. It's the way I give back to you. I'm not leaving anything out of this. However this show is only about two hours long and you're just listening to me talk about how to do this. If you want to see me do this, then I have something for you. I have also made three videos that go with this podcast. All total they are about four hours long and I'll show you everything I'm talking about step-by-step, part by part, every example from big battery banks to small betterment banks. You see me do everything. At the end of the show I'll tell you all about the video and you can get the video if you so desire. This podcast will be enough for you. If you want more there is the video. If you're listening on the computer right now and you want to follow along and see some of the things Jack and I are talking about. You can go to I made a special site just for this battery show. was getting a bit full. If you want to see what we are talking about go over there. If not you can see you later. That is enough of my sales pitch, go ahead Jack.


Jack Spirko: On the sales pitch I just want to reiterate, I called Steve on the phone 30 days ago. I said, "Hey man build this." And he did. Like I said, beyond my wildest dreams. I think the video product is going to be something you guys really want to look at. Let's get into. Let's get stuck into, as Geoff Lawton would say. How many choices do we have when it comes to building our battery banks for the house, as far as battery types?


Steven Harris: Jack, there are three major types of batteries we're going to talk about. These are the three major types you really have to select from. I am not going to have any NASA batteries in here. This is all Walmart stuff. One, flooded lead acid batteries. What is a flooded lead acid battery? These are the standard car and marine batteries or golf cart batteries you are used to see every day. The second type of battery is a sealed lead acid battery these are also called SLA batteries. This are the ones that are in small electric cars, like your daughter drives little pink Barbie Jeep around. These are what's in them. They are what is in your security alarm panel. There in the emergency exit signs. There like a plastic brick with two terminals on them. They are also in your deer feeder. They are also the same type of come in those battery boxes, or jump boxes that you can buy that you use to jumpstart your car. Those are using sealed lead acid batteries. The third type of battery that we are going to talk about tonight is absorbed glass mat batteries, also known as AGM batteries. These are sealed up as well, but there's so safe you can actually carry one on the commercial jetliner legally. This is a highest-quality battery you'll get and they are the most 100% acid the safe. The AGM is 100% safe to have with kids around the AMG battery. You could jump on it. you can roll on them. You can roll the thing like a bowling ball.


Jack Spirko: What about other types of batteries that we hear about sometimes for home battery banks? Nickel iron, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion batteries, and the Luke Skywalker lightsaber battery. What about those?


Steven Harris: What is comes down to is I have to give you, here on the show, what works now. What is 100% reliable. 100% proven. 100% we know it's going to do what it needs to when it's hot, when it's cold, when you drain the thing all the way down. I have to give you stuff that is mass manufactured at the cheapest prices and the stuff you're going to find it locally. You are going to find it in your Walmart, in your RadioShack, online at Amazon. I got to give you that stuff. Lead acid technology batteries are the only batteries that qualify for the descriptions. Nickel Iron, a lot of people have asked me about this. Let me get into it briefly. Also called NiFe cells, because Ni is for nickel, Fe is the periodic table element symbol for iron, ferrous. Right now there are only two places in the entire world to get a nickel iron battery. One is in China and they are literally 10 times the price of a darn good lead acid battery. In fact I got a whole presentation on Zello the other night, just on nickel iron batteries because someone asked. Nickel metal hydride batteries, this is the same technology that is used your AA or AAA rechargeable batteries, we talk about before. These are best suited just for that. nickel metal hydride technology suited for smaller batteries and not large battery banks like what we're going talk about tonight. They do not make 50 pound nickel metal hydride batteries. Nor chargers for them. As far as lithium-ion goes, what you're going to see that might take over the battery market in the future, very distant future, are the lithium technology batteries. One of these types of lithium polymer batteries or LiPo batteries. These batteries are used in model RC planes, car, and helicopters. They also have a tendency to wildly catch fire if you overcharge them. Then there are lithium iron phosphate battery, sometimes called LIP batteries. If you listening to this podcast in year 2022 and you just might be listening to this in the year 2022. That is a heck of a statement isn't it, Jack.


Jack Spirko: <laughs> I think you will have the opportunity to.


Steven Harris: If you are listening to this 2022 and it is 2012 right now December. This might be an option for you but right now they're over 10 times price of a sealed lead acid battery.


Jack Spirko: Yeah. That is why I through in the little comment about the Luke Skywalker lightsaber battery. It is amazing where technology is going. I look at lithium-ion, especially some stuff coming out in power tools and I have upgraded some of my power tools and it is an immense difference. But there's things that do the job right and right now for this type of application. I think you zeroed in on all three of them. Lets get into the first type of it, the lead acid battery. The flooded lead acid battery actually. For folk that don't understand what that means, what does it mean to be flooded?


Steven Harris: It means to be full of liquid acid. It means you can take something off the top of your battery and you can look down into it and actually see the lead oxide plates and the liquid sulfuric acid above the plates. It is a Sulfuric acid and water mixture in the battery. You can put your finger into that hole and burn yourself on the acid. It's a flooded liquid battery. You can spill it. You can spill your blue jeans as I did making this video. It'll eat a hole through your jeans. Not right away but it will do it overnight.


Jack Spirko: I'll tell you what, it happened to us in the military. You'd always end up with T-shirts with little holes in them, form around your waist level because that's where the battery boxes were on the trucks. You didn't think you got anything on you, but sooner or later you would end up trashing those T-shirts.


Steven Harris: I got a picture of it in the video. It is a bunch of little holes on the bottom area of my blue jean pants, because that's where I had little drops of acid drop onto it when I show you in the video how to use a hydrometer and test the batteries. Going back to flooded lead acid there are even big huge versions of these batteries called telecom batteries. They're so big. They are about 3 feet tall and there 2 V each. They weigh over 400 pounds each. You need six of them to make 12 V. Which is what a 12 V lead acid battery really is. It is six 2 V batteries inside one case and connected together internally to make up 12 V. Remember this, each 2 V battery in the 12 V box, is its own little battery, it has its own plates, its own acid and everything. That's why there is six holes on top of a 12 V battery, so you can added distilled water to them or check the acid concentration. These batteries only like to work standing up, right side up. You can't turn them upside down. The acid would leak out. You can't put them on their side. They have to remain up.


Jack Spirko: Absolutely, what about batteries that don't have any holes. No acid to worry about. They call them maintenance-free or something like that.


Steven Harris: Maintenance free, is actually a version of a flooded lead acid battery. We shouldn't confuse them the maintenance free with the sealed lead acid batteries. The maintenance free batteries are basically flooded lead acid batteries with the caps on so tight they will never come off or no caps at all. Those are really like the previous one we talked about. If you want truly a battery that is completely sealed, these are our second type of lead acid batteries we're going to talk about. They are called SLA batteries, for sealed lead acid batteries. The acid inside of this one is actually a gel. Which is why the call Gel Cells or they used to be called that. SLA is a more common term right now. These can operate right side up upside, down on the side, on there side, on there end, doesn't matter.


Jack Spirko: I have got one of those jump packs. It has battery inside of it and I can hook it up my vehicle and give it a jump start if i need to. What kind of battery did you say was in those?


Steven Harris: That would be the Gel Cell, Jack. That would be the one we were just talk about. You have to be really really careful with those jump packs. I really, me personally, kind of hate those things because they install a fault sense of security into people. I think horrible and deadly. Just because you can hook it up to your car and started it, people now think they have a lightsaber in their hands. And they have infinite amount of power and they can plug it and run everything in our house. After all it started it started my car didn't it? These jump packs even come with built-in tools, like an air compressor, flashlight, inverter. The truth is that there is not hardly a worst thing you can get for your energy preparedness than one of of these. Now get this... They are made in China and so are the batteries. By the time the batteries are made in China and then the batteries are sent to the other factory in China. And then are made into a nice fancy jumper box case in China with all the toys. By the time it gets onto a container. And then go onto a boat. And then go across the Pacific. And then clears customs to go into a storage house for the store it is going to finally go to. And then finally rides on truck to the store to go on the shelf. That can easily be over a year. That has been a year with the battery only having a partial charge on it when it left the factory. Having a battery partially charge for year and losing power each month is called self discharge. It is what kills a battery. This gel cell miracle lightsaber of energy only might have a real life of two or three years associated with it. Already you're getting into it with a year off of its life. You're not going to discover that it's only going to work for 30 minutes, until your 31 minutes into your disaster. These are also the same batteries used in backup power supply for computers, UPS. Lots of people have asked me, and that's why it's in here, about using a UPS of the emergency back up for a disaster. First, they usually beep like crazy when the power fails. I don't know if you want to listen to that, but I don't. Second, if you are getting them used and old, they probably are old and don't have a lot of life left him. Three, they're designed a hold up a computer for 10 minutes so you can shut it down and turn it off. Rather than it just crashing and power off correctly. They're up and running for 10 minutes not 10 hours. BEEP BEEP BEEP.


Jack Spirko: I have a extremely over built UPS, but even with that it is to run my computer. It is to run my modem. It is to run my audio recorder. For instance right now, while we already have this much of this awesome show recorded. If the power just went <bah-swoosh> we don't lose it all. I've had that happen once and in things usually only happen to me once before they never happen again, without a redundancy put in place. That will run my computer and etc, everything here for a whopping hour without really taxing it. After that you got to go to something else. That's what that's for. That's not for running your freaking house and charging your cell phone. It is just not designed to do that. I am completely with you. Now, on the gel cells. How big are the gel cell that are sold? What are the biggest ones we can get.


Steven Harris: This is where it really starts to separate itself and makes it kind of a non candidate for us. There generally sold in a much smaller size. Like I said for your deer feeder or for your emergency lights system or your UPS. They are like the size of a brick. Like I said they go into an alarm system or deer feeder. They do make them up to a 100 ampere hours in size and we talk about what an ampere hour is shortly. The biggest gel cells, pretty much where the flooded acid batteries starts out so the biggest gel cell is close to the size of a small flooded lead acid battery. Also you find out these larger gel cells – or sealed lead acid batteries – are sometimes, they’re also called VRLA batteries. When they’re bigger, they will be 2.5, 3.5  times the price of a good, deep cycle marine battery. What you are finding in the market is that the gel cells used to have the bigger size. The bigger gel cells, the 100 ampere hour to 75 ampere hour gel cells, kind of like the one that might be in Jack’s oversized UPS. They’re being replaced by Absorbed Glass Matt batteries, or AGM batteries.


Jack Spirko: Yeah, on the AGM, that’s the third type of battery you said you were going to talk about. You said they’re the safest. And I don’t think we see a better example of this than I just did a feature on a guy that built a Kawasaki motorcycle into an electric motorcycle, runs up to 50 miles per hour. He’s got a range on it of about 30 miles and it uses three of the AGMs and the biggest reason he picked those was he could put them in there sideways or upside down and make them fit in the frame.


Steven Harris: True true. In fact, AGM batteries were first invented go into fighter jets.


Jack Spirko: Okay. That would make sense, you gotta go upside-down in one of those.


Steven Harris: Upside-down, rightside up, lots of vibration, lots of abuse. AGMs can really take abuse really good. AGMs are fast, vastly taking over the market that the larger gels had. AGM batteries are sealed up as well. They can operate-upside down, rightside up, underside, any position like a gel cell but inside they’re different. They have a fiberglass mat between lead oxide plates of the batteries and the acid is absorbed into the glass mat, thus AGM.  And it stays there. And the battery is sealed and nothing is going to leak out. These are the most acid safe batteries you’re going to get. If you have kids that might get into a Marine battery, which not likely,you gotta pop the top with a  screwdriver, or they might open the top of golf cart batteries, which is really easy, then you'll want to go with the AGM batteries. Again – you got kids, AGM. Also because nothing will be leak out of an AGM battery they can be shipped by UPS or anyone else with no hazmat, no hazardous material fees. I don't want to going into the chemistry of the batteries in this show and whether you have a lead acid battery with cadmium or antimony alloy plates, but the AGMs have a little better chemistry than the flooded lead acid batteries and of course by the very nature but also considered to be a deep cycle battery. So the AGM is a little better chemistry and great for vibration, acid safe, but they’re going to be a little bit more expensive.


Jack Spirko: Yeah, now most things in life, the more features, benefits, and things you add to it, especially when they’re real, the higher the price goes. How do they compare in price to lead acid?


Steven Harris: The AGM, well the AGMs are also lead acid batteries, okay. So AGM batteries compared to flooded lead acid batteries.


Jack Spirko: That’s what I meant. A flooded battery.


Steven Harris: Like the Marine battery. Sorry I'm just one those exact people, Jack. Because boy, the listeners will pick up on it and they’ll email me “Did you mean to say that? Did you mean to say that?” so I got to be exact with you guys. The AGM batteries are about twice the price of a good one flooded acid marine battery. So they’re significantly affordable, they’re only double the price, because a regular Marine battery is really pretty damn affordable. Have you seen those batteries with the round cylinders in them? You know, it’s not a square battery, it’s like six round cylinders? Those are made by a company called Optima, and they are one of the more famous lead acid AGM batteries. I do have them on the Battery1234 website and you can actually have Amazon ship them directly to your house. You can also find Optima batteries on the shelf of Sam's Club but watch out. They probably won't be the group 31 size which is the largest traditional side of the battery as the ones I have listed for Amazon. So you’ve got to be careful about the number of ampere hours you have in the battery. Again, I'm going to cover group size and ampere hours with you shortly. Odyssey is also an excellent manufacturer AGM batteries. Duracell has a very nice line of AGM batteries and they’re sold off the shelf at Sam's Club. As of December 2012 I've not seen any AGM batteries on the shelf Walmart disappointing but I'm sure they’ll show up. Duracell AGMs at Sam's Club are the best AGMs with the most energy at the lowest price. That's from the pricing I've done for you. I have a side note here, Jack, and mentioning something regarding preparedness that I personally find is just amazing, especially since we just went through Hurricane Sandy. An optimized AGM battery weighs 60 pounds and if you're on an Amazon prime member they will ship that 60 pound battery to you overnight to your front door by UPS air overnight for a total shipping charge of $4. Overnight shipping.


Jack Spirko: If you want, say, two or more of them to make a battery bank with, your Prime membership just got paid for because I don’t know anybody out there, if you ever shipped something that’s sixty pounds even in regular freight, it ain’t cheap.


Steven Harris: Yep. You can get things shipped to you by two-day for nothing, by one day for $4 if you’re an Amazon prime member which cost $79 a year and that's an Amazon prime object you’re buying, which means it's actually an Amazon warehouse. Which means they warranty everything for 30 days. You can return anything for any reason for 30 days. So my point is I sent an email out three or four days before Hurricane Sandy hit and I warned everyone and it’s amazing to think that people who were not prepared, who did not have a battery, a battery charger or inverter or any other preparedness supply, they could order an inverter, a battery or two, and ordered them all off and UPS will deliver them the next day for $4 per item and this is when everyone is at all your local store shelves raping and pillaging everything it’s all gone. Amazon and UPS will deliver it to you in a day. I just think that is just an amazing statement.


Jack Spirko: You know, and I think that that begs a reiteration of something I try to tell people all the time. That everybody's worried about the end of the world as we know it, the apocalypse, a total economic collapse  and I’m not saying none of that stuff can never happen, we talk about it realistically here . We always have to keep in mind disaster preparedness in order of probability and the less people that are going to be affected by a disaster the more likely you as an individual are to experience it. you're a heck of a lot more likely to find yourself in the eye of a coming storm than you are riding down the road fighting Mad Max. I never really looked at it that way, Steve. That having that membership is like kind of, you know, if you realize you need something, being able to get it quick but not having to go out to get it, that's pretty cool.


Steven Harris: I think it is. Also sells food too.


Jack Spirko: That’s true!


Steven Harris:  I’m serious, it’s like Cosco. You can't buy one jar peanut butter, you got to buy a small case of six. But my mother is 74 years old now and she’s fine, she drives, she goes to the grocery store. But in the winter time when it's cold and everything else and she doesn't want to carry too much, I have all the stuff that she normally eats dropped off by UPS at her house from Amazon. So when she goes to the grocery store it’s just for butter and milk and eggs.


Jack Spirko: Now that is something very important for people to think about too. Because I hear people all the time, “I’ve got a grandmother, or whatever, that’s far away.” And that’s really not something I’ve really thought about. And I do order food there once in awhile because there’s certain things... I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to buy oriental fish sauce in Hot Springs, Arkansas but it ain’t easy. Anyway, we’ll get back on the topic. But it’s a very good point, Steve.


Steven Harris: I just want to make a side point for you guys, I think it’s an amazing tool. Stuff can show up on day one or two before the storm hits. I want to recap what we talked about because it was kinda technical. There are three types of lead-acid batteries. One, there are flooded lead-acid batteries, which are our regular car, marine, and golf cart type batteries. These are the most affordable. Two, there are sealed lead-acid batteries, also called gel cells. They are more for backup power for small electronic systems and lights. Three, there absorbed glass mat or AGM batteries, that are the most acid safe batteries out there. If you have kids, you’ll be getting these and they are only about twice the price of a flooded lead-acid battery. And again, UPS will ship them to your door. You are going to have to pick between one of these three batteries for what you are going to use for your personal battery bank. I think there is only an option for you to pick between the regular flooded battery and an AGM. It comes down to will your kids get into the battery acid or won't they?


Jack Spirko: Fair enough. So you don’t think there's enough of a performance advantage in an AGM to make it worth the cost. It's more the safety issues, is that what you’re saying?


Steven Harris: I'm saying is a tremendous safety issue.


Jack Spirko: But it's not about performance, it’s about safety.


Steven Harris: Yeah, it's not about performance. The AGM, let's say, might be 10% to 25% better performance.


Jack Spirko:  If I don't even worry about the safety, I can get 10% to 25% better performance, into 100% better performance by increasing the size of my bank by a battery.


Steven Harris: You got it exactly.

Jack Spirko: There we go. I’m thinking money. So you mentioned a lot of stuff along the way here like group size, amp hour, depth of discharge, deep-cycle. What does all that stuff mean?


Steven Harris: Well it's like what came first, the chicken or the egg? I wanted to tell you about the chicken first, which is the batteries, before I got into the egg, which is the technical terms because I did not want to bore you at the start of the show. But I have to take a little moment to tell you these important terms so you can make the decision on what battery is best for you when you're standing at the store shelf at Walmart and wondering which one of these 50 batteries do I want to buy. You will know exactly which one you want to buy. So okay, as they say, size matters. Group size. There are actually group sizes from 21 to 98, if you want to be technical. Then there’s industrial and tractor batteries that are called 4Ds and 8Ds. What you're going to find on the shelf at Walmart, AutoZone, Pep Boys, and Amazon are going to be either group size 24, 27, 29, or 31. So that's it, okay? Basically group size 24 is for a small car, 27 is for a midsize car or truck, and group size 29 and 31 are for really big trucks like diesel trucks. Except my pickup truck actually has two group 27s in them, so it's not written in stone. The group size actually refers to just the dimensions of the battery, its average length, width, height. So you know that is going to fit into the hole that is in your car that you’re going to put it in. If you're not going to put it into a hole your car, you want the biggest one you can get, which would be 29 to 31. If you are at Sam's Club or some place of a big selection of marine batteries that you're looking at. Then you're going to have to want buy the biggest one you can get or the biggest one that won't give you a hernia. Those are either going to be group size 29 or 31. 31 is slightly bigger than 29. Group size 29 is the largest group size I can find at Walmart. The Orbital AGMs I have listed on Amazon are group sign 31. If you can't find a group size 31, please get the group size 29. After all, the bigger battery does you no good if you can't get it. A smaller battery is better than no battery. If you can't tell, I think Sam's Club and Walmart are the two best places to buy a marine deep-cycle battery. But Sam's Club only has batteries at their stores in 24 of 50 states, according to their website. Thankfully that includes Alaska and Hawaii where it would be more expensive to ship a battery anyways. Your Sam's Club will have a battery for you. When it comes to golf cart batteries there are GC2, GC8, and GC12. The ones you want are GC2s. Now this is kinda funny. It’s GC2 because you need two of these 6 volt batteries to make 12 volts. GC8 is an 8 volt battery, which is no good for you, and GC12 is a single 12 volt golf cart battery.So a GC2 is because you need two of them to make 12 volts, that’s not because they’re 2 volts, which they aren’t.


Jack Spirko: But yet a GC8 is 8 volts and a GC12 is 12 volts. That’s a genius that came up with that system. So now what about amp hour and reserve capacity, how do I know what these mean? What the battery has the most energy capacity, etc? There's things that are really important and there’s things that are marketing. Like when you go out and buy your wireless modem it says it has 100 Mb capacity and your DSL connection has 1.5 as though it really is important. What are we actually looking at here with what's important? What's really going to make a difference for people?


Steven Harris: This is a little tricky so listen carefully. Actually I have this in the video, it’s a little more visual and illustrative. I think the only way to judge how much energy is in a battery is by ampere hours. Now what is an ampere hour? It's pretty close to this. I have a few numbers, listen carefully, they’re simple. If you have a 100 ampere hour battery, it will give you 10 amps for 10 hours, 10 times 10 is 100, got it? It will give you 20 amps for 5 hours, 20 times 5 is 100. It will give you 33 1/3 amps for 3 hours, and it will give you 50 amps for 2 hours. Now, it's close to this, but not exact because the less energy you pull from a battery the more efficient it is at giving up those amperes to you. Your 10 amp or 10 hours will really last a bit longer than 10 hours. If you’re trying to pull 50 amps from the battery for two hours, you'll never make it because you’re pulling so much current that the battery becomes more inefficient. It just can’t dump that much energy without losing something in the process. It’s like pouring water from one bucket into another. Pour water very slowly and every drop goes from one bucket will go into the other bucket. Spill one bucket of water real quickly into another bucket and the water will splash all over the place and all the water will not make it into the bucket. It is the same with taking energy and putting energy into a battery. Technically this all has to do with internal resistance, surface area of the plates, what lead is alloyed with, and a bunch of other stuff. I’m really trying to give you a rule of thumb and a very sound working knowledge of batteries. Just remember, ampere hour. 100 ampere hour means I can pull 10 amps for 10 hours, 20 amps for 5 hours, 5 amps for 20 hours, 1 amp for 100 hours. That is basically what an ampere hour is.


Jack Spirko: I think that’s great, and I think it’s good to just make it the simple rules of thumb because obviously when we’re building systems we want to overbuild a little bit. We don't want to be going thinking we’re going to actually get exactly that much before we need to something called recharge or provide some sort of other source of energy there. I think that's the best way to make it easy for people and thanks for doing that. Let's move on to one more we see all the time, reserve capacity. I see reserve capacity listed on batteries all the time. What's the deal with reserve capacity?


Steven Harris: Yeah, reserve capacity, or RC, will show up most on batteries, More times than you’ll see AH or ampere hours. Many times the batteries won't have ampere hours on it and this is disappointing because someone in the industry decided to try to make this whole thing easy for people so they would know what battery was bigger and what battery was better and all he did was screw the whole thing up royally. The idea was you have a marine deep cycle battery for your boat and your electric trolling motor. The trolling motor will only draw about 25 amps on average. They wanted to tell the person looking at the battery in the store how long the battery would last in their trolling motor. They would say the reserve capacity is 180 minutes. The trolling motor will run for 180 minutes, that's three hours’ operation. That’s not bad, I can understand that, that makes sense. You think this would be really good, and you’re looking at the shelf and one battery says 180 minutes and one says 210 minutes, you’d know which one would last longer. Different companies doing the marketing are screwing everything up, and you know how it is all about a numbers game. In the battery video I give you a real world example, I'll give it to you here. I have two huge golf cart batteries tied together and they have a reserve capacity of, get this, of 120. Then I have a single marine battery, nowhere near the size of the two huge golf cart batteries, and it’s not 120, it's 210 minutes.


Jack Spirko: It’s all about where the variable comes from.


Steven Harris: That’s right. The big batteries are 120 minutes and the smaller battery is 210. This does not make sense at all. It's because the golf cart battery use a current draw of not 25 but 75 amps to do their calculation for reserve capacity and the marine battery uses the standard 25 amps. The golf cart batteries will last for 120 minutes if you only draw 75 amps from them, and the marine batteries will last almost double that, 210 minutes when you draw only 25 from it. But the golf cart battery very clearly says on the label that the reserve capacity is 120 minutes at 75 amps, it clearly says 75.


Jack Spirko: The numbers are there and to be fair the marketing widgetheads, if you’re buying a golf cart battery for the average golf cart the number’s valid. If you're buying a marine battery for the average trolling motor the number’s valid. When you're doing things like we are and you change the variable, it's not apples to apples at all.


Steven Harris: No. If the battery label does not say how many amps it is, you can assume it to be 25.


Jack Spirko: Okay.


Steven Harris: This is for reserve capacity in minutes, or RC. As I show you in the video, you take the minutes and you multiply it by the amps, and then you always divide by 60. That gives you the ampere hours. Amps times minutes divided by 60, got it? If you do that with 120 minutes at 75 amps and 210 minutes at 25 amps, you get the golf cart batteries to be 150 ampere hours, tada! You get the single marine battery at only 88 ampere hours. Now the truth shines through, but the math looks better in the video.


Jack Spirko:  Now you’ve shown us how big the difference between one big battery is than another. How much can I get from the battery? You’ve mentioned the depth of discharge. What is actually a deep cycle battery?

Post by: Hootie on May 18, 2013, 07:40:13 AM

Steven Harris: Depth of discharge is another subject with a few numbers that I’m going to make easy for you. If you have a battery that is fully charged, we’ll call that 100% charged. If you use half the energy from the battery, we’ll call that 50%. If you use 70% of the battery, that'll take you down to 30%. If you use 80%, it’s going to take you down to 20%. Got it? Everything adds up to 100%. An 80% depth of discharge means there’s only 20% of the energy left in the battery. This would be like using 10 amps from a 100 ampere hour battery for eight hours. Eight hours times 10 amps is 80 ampere hours. The 100 ampere hour battery, so it’s down to 20% left. When you go from 100% down the 40%, or down to 30%, or down the 20%, that is called deep cycling your battery because you're drawing down deep into the charge. A deep cycle battery can do this more times than a non-deep cycling battery. Marine batteries and deep cycles are pretty much synonymous, you can interchange the two. It's just labeling. Do you know what kills a battery? What damages it? Using it. Every time your battery is not at 100% charged and you use it, you are doing some damage to the battery. That you are never ever going to reverse. Every day your battery is not on a good charger, and we’ll get to those, and being maintained. Is a day that it is losing some of its own energy. It's called self-discharge. The battery will sit there and actually lose its energy slowly, like 3% to 5% per month for a lead acid battery. It’s like having a big tank of water with a small hole drilled the bottom of it. It’s leaking a small amount of water or energy every day. The level is getting lower and lower. Every day that your battery is not 100% all the way full and kept all the way full is a day that a very small amount of damage is being done to the battery. So even charging up a lead acid battery and putting it into the closet is doing very small amounts of damage to the battery every day, because of that little hole in the water tank. It's losing something every day when it’s not fully charged and a small amount of damage is occurring. That is why we keep a real charger, I’ll talk about those, on the battery, all the time until the power fails when you need to use it. This is a simplification of the process but you can use this as a rule of thumb. The question is how much damage are you doing and how many times can you do this discharge, okay? Well if you could do that discharge a thousand times, you really don't think of your batteries being damaged, you think of your batteries as being used. I'm kind of playing with words little bit here to make the point razor sharp for you. Let's be really harmful to the battery. Let's be as mean as we can. Let’s do the most damage we can to the battery. Let's get a battery, take it from 100% all the way down to zero. The inverter has a low-voltage alarm and it's screaming at you and it’s about to shut off. If you put a light bulb directly on the battery it’d be very very dim. Just barely lighting up. You’ve taken this battery as far down as it can, it’s zero. Then you put a charger on it to make it a happy battery, and you bring it back fully up to 100%. I'll talk on the subject later, but I hate trickle chargers for a lot of reasons but one of them is you can never bring a battery from zero all it back up. It usually can’t get the battery off zero. We've taken our battery back up to 100%, life is happy. We slam it all the way back down to zero again, rock bottom dead. Then we put the charger on it and bring it all the way back up. If this was a car battery, like a regular battery in your car used for starting the car, you could do this 100% depth of discharge down to zero only about 12 or 15 times before the battery is absolutely dead, dead, dead. It would not respond or give you any energy. 10 to 15 times for a car battery. A deep cycle battery will do this 150 to 200 times. That's over 10 times the lifecycle of a car battery. This is when you're being the most harsh. You're being the most harsh to it and it will still do this 150 to 200 times. Does that make you feel a lot better knowing that you can take a deep cycle down to zero and back up to 100% about 150, 200 times? That’d be a lot of use in a disaster, wouldn’t it? So we're talking 100 down to zero about 200 times, remember that.


Jack Spirko:  And we shouldn't be going and doing that.


Steven Harris: You shouldn't, but you know what? It's there for you to do it.


Jack Spirko: You might have to.


Steven Harris: If you have to, you do it. If you have to, you use it. So remember what I said, "Deep cycle, down and back up 200 times." If you went from 100% down to 50% and then back to 100%. You could do this not 200 times but 500 times. If you only went down to 70% and then back up to 100% you could do this over 1000 times. My point is, when you really draw a battery down past 50% depth of discharge you're really doing a lot of damage to it compared to when you only bring it down to 70% or 50%. You know what? If it’s is a disaster and an emergency that's what it's there for. It’s to be used and abused if you must. It's more important for your iPhone to be charged up and for you to be able to make and receive phone calls than it is for your deep cycle battery to have 100 more cycles of zero to 100 life in it. By the way, just a typical fun number for you. If a typical marine battery will charge an iPhone from 0% to 100% over 200 times. If your marine battery could go from 100% to 0%, 200 times. That means over the life of the marine battery it could charge your iPhone 40,000 times. Now how's that for a number?


Jack Spirko: That’s a good number. I don't think your iPhone can be charged 40,000 times before the ghost of Steve Jobs makes it obsolete.


Steven Harris: Yeah, actually the iPhones can take a charge about a thousand times. But the same thing applies for your iPhone lithium-ion battery as it does for the lead-acids, kind-of. Remember we said that automotive starting battery could only go from 100% to 0% about 15 times. That’s why it's important when you have an inverter on your car battery and you’re lighting your house, or drawing more energy and powering your refrigerator and freezer, that you keep the car at idle while you're doing this so it's supplying as much power from the car alternator rather than from car battery. That's why I want you to idle your car when you’re doing anything big. For those of you who are new here and you really like the idea of running a battery bank at home. You like the idea of being able to power your house from the car, in your driveway with the inverter. I have a whole TSP episode on this called how to power your house from your car. It's at for you to listen to. All my past episodes are there for you to listen to instantly with just one tap on your smartphone or  your computer.


Jack Spirko: If I'm running my house and my refrigerator and my snow cone maker, off of an inverter from my car. When do I know I should start the car. When do I know the battery has gotten just a little bit too low. When am I going to say, "Hey, that is enough. I need to put some stuff back into it."


Steven Harris: What's a good rule thumb for your battery bank and for your car battery? When do you want to put a charge back into or when do you think you might be doing damage to it? As you can see in the video, I always have a this neat little LCD lit on a backlit voltmeter attached all my battery banks. I highly recommend it to you, all through the video, and in this show I highly recommend it. When it reaches 12.0 volts, when you're using an inverter on the car or the battery bank, then you want to think about starting the car for half hour or an hour or long as your refrigerators being powered. Get the battery voltage back up and then turn your car off. If you do not have a separate voltmeter on the batteries, all the Duracell inverters both the 400 W and 800 W one have a built in voltmeter on the display. Generally rule of thumb, other inverters do not have a voltmeter on them, until you buy one that is 1000 W or more. Then they will come with a little LCD display that will flash back and forth between the battery voltage and the amount of power it is delivering in watts. I have 1000 W inverter on as cheap as $80, so they are affordable. A $20 150 W inverter from Walmart and a bunch of LED and small compact fluorescent lights, will give you more light than you could want in your house in a blackout. This is not something you have to spend a lot of money on. You are better to have a $20 small inverter and some LED light bulbs from Walmart or Christmas tree lights, which are cheap this time of year. It's better to have that, then it is better to have nothing.


Jack Spirko: Let me tell you guys, on the Christmas tree lights. The white LEDs, for the amount of power they consume, talk about something to light up a room if you just string them around a roof line or something like that. We have them out on our deck. I've got three strings, each string is drawing individually 3.5 W on my deck. When we have people over in the evening, you turn those on that is all the light you need out there. They do a lot. that is not being bounced off walls and roofs. That is a great point to consider those your as your load draw lighting source, Steve. Lets keep going. You have covered group size, amp hour, depth of discharge, and deep cycle. Lets get right down to it. What battery do I want, Steve?


Steven Harris: Here's your answer. The best battery for the money, the one that gives you the most energy stored for the lowest amount of money is going to be a flooded lead acid battery. That is either going to be a marine deep cycle battery or GC2 golf cart battery. Deep cycle batteries are at Walmart and Sam's Club and the GC2 batteries will be either Energizer or Duracell brand golf cart batteries at Sam's. Or you are going to have to find a local battery supplier. They are in all significant cities. You'll buy a Trojan golf cart battery, a T–105 is very popular Trojan battery. Either Sam's or Walmart or you are going to have to find a local supplier. If acid safety is a concern to you. Then you are going to buy an AGM battery. That will be either Duracell AGM battery from Sam's Club. Or an Optima AMG battery from Sam's Club, Amazon, or maybe Auto Zone or Pep Boys.  Both Trojan and Odyssey also make very good AGM batteries. Shop online for prices and try to buy them locally. These batteries weight from 50 to 100 pounds each. My GC2 golf cart batteries are 64 pounds each.


Jack Spirko: How do I know if I want a deep cycling marine battery or spend a little more money and get the golf cart batteries. What is the big differences? Are there advantages from one to another? Because from hearing you talk, before when we talked about this subject long ago on the show, the big thing with golf cart batteries in that they are designed to take abuse.


Steven Harris: We're down to either 1: a deep cycle marine, 2: a golf cart battery, or 3: a AGM battery.  We can get rid of number 3 an AGM right now because you're only getting this one if acid safety is important.  We are down to deep cycle marine battery or golf cart battery. The first reason that is going to decide between the two is if you can pick it up and do you have to move it? A good marine battery is 50 to 60 pounds but it's all one battery. It even has a handle on it. You can pick it up and move it from the basement to kitchen table. You can move it to your garage to be charged from your car. You putting a car and take it with you. It's portable that is one thing I showed the video. I move 12 V marine battery from downstairs in basement to upstairs in the dining room table.  Then I attach everything to it. If you were running DC only then this is the only way to charge your phone upstairs. Otherwise be charging your phone of basement where the batteries are. Someone might be calling you, might as well move the battery to living area in the blackout rather than moving the living area to the battery. For golf cart batteries you need 2 GC2 battery. They are 6 V each. 6 + 6 = 12. They are connected together with a big electrical wire, that you have to make and/or buy. I show you in the video how to make them. Each one weighs 64 pounds. That's 128 pounds of total battery weight. That's dead weight. That's hard weight to move. To move these you have to take the electrical cable off and move each battery on its own. There is no handle on it to help you move them. Then when you get them set to where you want them, you got to hook them back together with a  short electrical cable that joins them. Golf cart batteries are bigger and heavier, so there are more ampere hours in them then a single marine battery. As I said earlier to show, 2 GC2 golf cart batteries from Sam's Club was 150 ampere hours. The group 29 deep cycle battery from Walmart was 88 ampere hours. Marine batteries have sponge plates. Golf cart batteries have thicker group plates. It has a little better chemistry, higher antimony. The golf cart  batteries are made for abuse. Look at the golf cart. You got idiots, half drunk, driving them and bouncing them all over the place, running into things, quick takes offs, fast stops. The batteries have to take a lot of physical abuse, vibration and bouncing. Remember AGMs, like for your fiends electric motorcycle, are excellent physical abuse as well. The golf cart batteries have extra room at the bottom under the plates for when the place degrade and slump stuff off of it all down and it can build up on the bottom of the battery without shorting the plates of the cell out. They also have more room of the top so they can hold a greater volume of electrolyte, which is sulfacid  and distilled water. The batteries will lose some water over time, because they generate very very small amounts of hydrogen and oxygen when being charged. This uses up some of the water. With more room at the top and golf cart battery, you got more room for water, which means you have to add water to the battery less often. In the video I show you how to check each battery cell with an acid hydrometer. When I go outside to check my 5 year old batteries in my Dodge diesel I find half the cells don't water all the way to the top. They're not empty. It's just not all the way to the top. It's actually below the plate so I show you how to put distilled water back into the batteries. This is very easy to do in a golf cart battery is well. With the marine battery you have to take a screwdriver and pop the lid off. With a golf cart battery you can just twist one knob and all three covers come off at the same time. They got bigger holes also adding water is easier. The golf cart batteries are bigger, heavier, more energy batteries but they are better suited if you are going to have a stationary battery bank in your house, and it is not going to move. The golf cart batteries are the way to go if you want really big battery bank as well. You want to have 2,4, 6, 8, or 20 batteries hooked up? You are getting GC2 batteries. In the video I have a photo of a friend's battery bank, that has 8 GC2 golf cart batteries in it. We even split in half, to make two is one and one is none. It has 2 chargers on it so can be charged twice as fast. Then he throws one big switch in the battery bank to join together for better life to use with the three inverters he has on it. It's got 200 W, 800 W, and 1500 W inverters all on the same bank. Two is one, one is none, three is a lot better.


Jack Spirko: we are going to have to figure out a rhyme for three in there. I think it's a good one Steve.


Steven Harris: Three is for me. Two is one, one is none, three is for me. How is that?


Jack Spirko:  Three is for the prepper in me. I don't know.


Steven Harris: The marine battery is going to be a lot better. Let me say this again. I am making distinctions here for you. The marine batteries is going to be lot better if you're going to have a single battery system. Especially one that might be DC voltage only, no inverter.  This is the simplest version of the home battery bank and I will show it to you. This might also be where most of you guys start, with one group 29 Marine deep cycle battery from Walmart for $95. Put a $30 charger on it and some connectors and put on some USB chargers and away you go. You can join together as many marine batteries as you want to. You can have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 marine batteries all joined up with each other.


Jack Spirko: There are some rules for hooking up batteries. Like you might want some to be type or size or anything else like that?


Steven Harris: Yeah. First of all, if you have two batteries like two marine batteries, you've always get more life out of batteries by hooking them together and using both batteries at the same time. If I got into the chemistry why, this show we go too long. Hooking up two batteries is better than using all of battery one and then using all of battery two separately. Next yes, the battery you hook together should be the same age and the same size of each other, they should be twins. The battery should be purchased at the same time, just like like twins born the same time. Your be gotten at the same time. If they're more than six months apart don't hook them up to each other. When hooking up both batteries, they should also be fully charged. If you hook up a battery with 50% deep of discharge with a battery up there at 100%, it's going to have a higher voltages. It is going to rapidly dump a lot of current into the lower voltage battery until they equaled out. There will be some sparks and the battery cables might get warm. Don't forget 12 V batteries are hooked up in parallel. Which means you are hooking up plus to plus and minus to minus to keep the 12 V but increased number of ampere hours you have in the batteries. Golf cart batteries are 6 V each. You have to put two in series to get 12 V. Which means one of the plus terminals it's connected to one of the minus terminals of the second golf cart battery. Again this is better shown in the video. Once you've done this, you treat this as just like one big 12 V battery. If you are adding more golf cart batteries, you add them two at a time. The pairs hooked up in series and it goes in parallel with all the batteries. Like I said, once the two 6 V batteries are together you treated no different than if it was a 12 V battery.


Jack Spirko: You mentioned that battery make some hydrogen when they are being charged. Is this a safety issue? Does the room need to be vented or anything when charging? Are we going to get any Hydrogen build up?


Steven Harris: I said it makes a very very small amount of hydrogen. I mean it makes a mouse fart of hydrogen. And yes mice do fart. Yet, everyone wants you to make you think the batteries are the Hindenburg in your closet ready to burst in flames. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hydrogen is 1/14 the density of air. If you put it in the balloon it would take you over 130,000 feet in the air just like Felix Baumgartner went that high with his RedBull jump with helium. It'll take you to the edge of space, 24 mile high. Hydrogen does not linger around like a fart. It's not going to come out of battery and come across the room like a fart looking for your nose. It is 1/14 the density air. The second it leaves the battery it is instantly trying to leave the closet, leave the room, leave the house, leave the entire building, at a speed faster than you can run. It is measured actually in meters per second. Any hydrogen coming out it instantly trying to delude itself over the atmosphere of the entire planet. Let me say that again, those atoms of hydrogen you release are going to dilute itself across the entire planet. Some of the hydrogen you release will make its way to over China. It does not want to build it. It does not want to be near you. The hydrogen is leaving as fast as I can. The only place hydrogen can build up is under the caps of the batteries in the battery cells. You ever see battery cables spark when you hook them up to the battery? If it just happens to spark and there just happens to be enough Hydrogen coming under the cell cap that it might go pop and blow off the caps of the battery. When it does it will blow out a bunch of sulfuric acid with it and  and go all over the place, that's what makes it dangerous. That is why you hook up the cable to battery and then you turn on or plug in the charger. You don't turn on the charger and then hook up the cables. That is also why you hook up the battery cables from the inverter to the battery and then turn on the inverter. This is also why you might consider wearing safety glasses when you are working around batteries. If you're an industrial setting, you would be made to wear safety glasses. Be smart, don't spark on terminals of your batteries, and you'll be fine. Really you are going to be fine. If you are a worried Nelly and you worry about every single thing in the world including meteors falling on your head from space, then get an AGM battery instead of a flooded lead acid battery. AGM does make hydrogen and oxygen, like all lead acid battery will do but it has a re-combiner in them. Which is a little platinum catalysts that recombined the hydrogen oxygen back in the water, and a little itty-bitty the heat. When it comes to hydrogen being made in a battery, remember these two things. One, it is a mouse fart. Two, it's going to leave your house and be over China and the entire planet.


Jack Spirko: When it comes to the charging there always seem to be a big question. What is the right way to charge batteries?


Steven Harris: When it comes to chargers there are two types of chargers. There are old dumb chargers and there are newer computer controlled smart three stage chargers. The older dumb chargers were just that dumb. Usually very little control over how much current was being put in the battery and very little control over when it stops charging the battery. Some of these would actually have an automatic manual switch on them and when it was on automatically it would reach a peek charge and turn itself off. Then 10 seconds later the battery voltage would drop. It would turn itself back on and then turn itself back off. Do this about every 10 seconds. That's really not a smart charger. This is not the type of charger you want. Not even if it's free. Forget about it. You'll end up with a partially charged battery or batteries where you boiled off all the water out of them. That does you no good. You only want to stick with chargers that are computer-controlled. They'll say 'Microprocessor Controlled' on the box. The key thing to look for is they are also called 'Three Stage Chargers.' Vector used to be my favorite brand and you would see them all around. You'll see them in my old photos in the video but Black & Decker bought them out. Relabel the chargers. Sold them for a few years and now they're all gone away. I can't find them anymore. We are stuck, Jack. We are stuck with only one company in the entire United States that is making a consumer level, consumer price, three states battery charger that you can easily buy online or at Walmart. The company is called Schumacher.


Jack Spirko:  Schumacher, aye? I think that is what I got. You mentioned that there are three stages of charging, can you tell folks what those are?


Steven Harris: Lets say you got a Schumacher EXC 103, 30 amp charger. You have about a 100 ampere hour deep cycle marine battery. Which would be a group size 31. It is pretty much dead and you are going to charge it all the way back up with the charger. It's a 30 amp charger and it's very intelligent. That does not mean it's throwing 30 A into the battery all the time. A 100 ampere hours divided by 30 amps of charge, does not mean your battery will be a 100% charged in 3.5 hours. It'll be 100% charged, not in three or four hours but about 12 hours. It'll be 80% changed in four hours. 100% in 12 hours, 80% in four hours. Again it's like pouring water from one five gallon pail to another. Imagine your five gallon pail water is 100% full, right to the lip, no room. You're going to pour it into another five gallon pail and you want to put every drop in there careful. What you do? You start to pour just a little bit of water into the pail until you get the stream of water going, and you know how fast you can pour. You start pouring as fast as you can and you start filling up a bucket. Then when the water started getting near the top of the bucket, you don't want to splash any water out of the bucket. So you slow down your pouring near the top. You pour out the last little bit and get every drop from one pail into the other. Does this makes sense? The smart three stage battery controller does the same thing. Just like pouring water. First thing the smart charger does is that it try to determine the state of charge of the battery. Just how deep down is it? It finds the battery is really almost empty. A 30 amp charger is now going to dump 30 amps into the battery so I can go from 0% to 80% full as fast as possible. This is called "bulk charging". It is like dumping your bucket of water fastest. This is the point where you are dumping the water fastest. Let's say it was going to do this fast 30 A charging. You get 80% charged up, in about four hours on your 100 ampere hour deep cycle group 31 marine battery. This is what it's called stage one of the battery charging. Next, it is going to go to what's called "absorption charging" also call a topping charge. This is where you are starting to slow down the pouring of your water into the bucket. The chargers is going to start charging a 30 A and then ramp it down to about 5 A, over a five hour period. This will get you 95% to 98% charged. Now remember this 95% to 98% number, because I'm to make a very big point about this in a minute. What we just did was stage two of three state charger. Now we get to stage three. This is called "float charging." This is where it will put a very small amount of energy, like 1 to 2 amps into the battery. Until it is perfectly 100% charged. This will take two or three hours to do this. It is a very slow steady charge to even out the charge on all of the cells. It's only for the last 2% to 5% of the battery charging. This mode of charging also called "trickle charging."  Many of you have said and a lot of you have emailed me saying, "Oh, I want about it bank and I want to put a trickle charger on it." Yeah right... We just dumped 30 A for four hours. Then dump 30 A to 5 A for another five hours. You think you're going use a 1 amp trickle charger to charge your battery banks. Even if it get the battery from nothing to A 100% it would take over 100 hours to do it. That is a good four days. A trickle charger will not pull battery from dead zero all the way up. In fact it won't even get it off of zero. Let's say that charging your battery is like pig hunting in the south. Bulk charging at a full 30 A like he's a 30-06 rifle. Large and powerful. One shot, one kill, one dead pig. Absorption or topping charging at 30 A to 5 A, that's 30 to 5 A, is like a 223 tactical rifle. It will mess that pig up fast and kill them. Trickel charging has like a Red Ryder Daisy BB gun. 100% useless for killing a pig. In fact all your going to do is pissed the pig off and you end up getting hurt by the pig. This is what a trickle charger does. It gives you a false sense of security. You think your battery is fully charged up and ready when the power fails, you discover that your $19.95 trickle charger has either not charged the battery. Or you find out that it is a dumb trickle charger and has boiled out all the water of the battery. You're stuck in the dark with a useless battery because of a useless trickle charger. Congratulation the pig just hurt you because of your BB gun. That is what a false sense of security will do. The smart three stage charger has a maintain or maintenance mode on it. It goes into maintain mode after it has your battery 100% charged. Which means it's always reading the voltage with a computer. It is reading voltages put in the exact amount of current needed to keep your battery charged at exactly 100%. Not overcharged, not undercharged. The smallest cheapest charger to does this is the 6 A Schumacher charger at Walmart for $29.95. Even though it is a 6 A charger, it is a computer controlled 3 stage charger. It just does 6 A for both charging. 6 A to 3 A for topping charge and then less than 2 A for the float charge. Then it goes to into less than 1 A or fractions of and amp for maintenance mode. You can go and I have all of the Schumacher chargers listed up there with my detailed comments on which ones I like and which ones are best for you for what you are doing.


Jack Spirko: One of the big things that people worry about is sulfation of the battery. Does it maintenance mode de-sulfate and what is sulfation.


Steven Harris: Yes, the Schumacher battery chargers, all of them, all do automatically de-sulfation. Just it on your battery and it will take care of it. Now, what is sulfation? I am going to make this down and dirty. And not give you the answer that in the encyclopedia. In a battery you have lead oxide plates and you have sulfuric acid in water. When the battery is fully charged all the sulfuric acid is in the acid. It is out of the battery plates completely. There is no sulfur in the plates when you are fully charged. As you discharge a battery, the sulfur from the sulfuric acid will go into the lead oxide plates and will form a sulfur compound that is like a crystal, lead sulfate. This is normal. When you charge the battery back up, these crystals go away and the sulfer goes back in acid in the water. When you leave a battery partially charged or all the way dead for more than a few weeks, these crystals start to chemically change into much harder more permanent crystal. These hard crystals, also made from sulfur, will start the form after month and increase from there. After the hard sulfation crystals are formed no desulfurization of any type, no snake oil, no battery pulser, no anything will reverse the hard crystal sulfation. If you can get a good charger on a battery and get a 100% charge and  allow it to run the desulfurization routine... The Schumacher does it automatically, you can't turn it on or off, it just senses it automatically and turns itself on. Which I kind of don't like but if does it. You get to do this two to four weeks after the battery has been used then you are going to reverse most of the sulfation. After a month the hard crystals are going to start to form. In several months to six months your battery will be fully sulfated and nothing is going to reverse this signs of sulfation and degradation you have in your battery.


Jack Spirko: That throws kind of the wrench in the works for people that think they are going to buy old batteries on eBay and rejuvenate and de-sulfate them.


Steven Harris: That's the problem. You have no idea how dead they have been and how dead they have been for how long. Thus how much hard crystal sulfation is in them. I used to go to the recycle center in Warren Michigan with two batteries in the back of my pickup truck. I would go up to the attendant and say I would  drop off two batteries. I would drive up to the pile of batteries outside and I'd take my two batteries off and put them in the pile. Then I would leave with another dozen old marine, deep cycle, and computer batteries. I would take them home and test them all. And try to recharge them. Then draw them all the way down. See how much energy they really had in them. Then I would charge them back up. This is what I did when I was kind of poor. Let me tell you, I did not find many batteries in that pile I could trust. Most of them went right back into the pile at the recycle center. There are some things you can do with older forklift batteries because they're just so big and huge. An old forklift battery can be 75% inactive on their plates, no good for the forklift, yet still have some good power applications for basically a renewable energy dominated house. But this is more for people who are running Earthships and have a constant over panel load and they have a very intelligent inverter charger. they know batteries and they are watching and testing the status of their batteries daily. This is not something you put in the basement of your house and forget about it. Let alone those batteries are 400 pounds each. For everyone here, for home and mobile battery banks, you don't trust your health and safety and power to strange batteries. You want the batteries for your battery bank to be new, fresh, from the store, and then you want to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You want them inside the house with you and the dogs and not outside in the weather.


Jack Spirko: Well Steve, we run out of time already so were to have to come back tomorrow and do the rest of the show. This time we kind of planned it that way.


Steven Harris: Yeah, Jack on the next show I'll tell you in detail how to take a marine deep cycle battery, golf cart battery, or AGM battery and how to make your own personal home battery bank. How to make it on the back of your pickup truck so you can take anywhere and power the world. I mentioned at the start of the show on that on, the videos over four hours and it's priced at $39.95 but just for TSP people for a month of December, because I love you, we are going to have it priced at $24.95. You can go get it right now. You be given a code to watch the video online right away. You can download it to your computer and save  it all. This month I'm also going to throw in a free copy of my 90 minute video call, "Bread from gasoline." Which is how to have an unlimited amount of bread in a disaster from a battery or generator. Also on are photos and detailed descriptions, written by me of everything we talked about on the show. We're going to talk about all the inverter, all the chargers, and everything you need to build the battery bank. I even got the wires, nuts, and electrical tape on there so you don't forget it. Those are all on the website for you to look at. I tell you if you can get them at Amazon and I tell you if you can get them at RadioShack or Walmart or how to get them from the auto supply store. Of course everything up there is also available on Amazon. If you have not sold them out of everything... because that happened during the last show, Jack. People went to site and the Duracell 800 W inverter could not be found anywhere on the Internet because so many TSP people bought Amazon completely out of it and then bought everyone else who had one are on a website completely out of it, kind of funny. All my previous shows on TSP are instantly available for download at That's my main radio show website. You can just tap on the show you want to listen on your smart phone or your computer and it'll start to play the show right away.  You don't have to download it, but I do have a download button if you want it on your phone for listening. Also, get this, tonight I will be live on Zello to answer any questions you might have about batteries and anything else. Zello is an interactive voice chatting system. We can have over 100 people in the room or channel at the same time. You can ask questions and I can answer them. Go to the and get the software for your PC, Mac, iPhone, or android. Then pick a username and password and login. When you're logged do a search in Zello for the 'The Survival Podcast,' three words. When you find that one and it has a tag after it, that says Modern Survival. Which is Jack's nickname.


Jack Spirko: That is me.


Steven Harris: That is Jack. That is the one you want to join. There is a couple other TSP channels but they're for Arkansas or local ones.


Jack Spirko: And we have a back of one, if the main room crashes. You'll see that too. It will say TSP and Backup Channel. It is a good idea to add that one too.


Steven Harris: Join that channel and will chat away with us. I'll be on at 8 PM eastern standard time tonight and tomorrow night. As well as I will be on one week from tonight and in one week from tomorrow night for those people who did not listen to the show today but listen to it over the next week. You'll have questions, I'll be there. Stay tuned for part two of the battery show tomorrow.


Jack Spirko: Well folks that does wrap up the show. I am going to say a few more things for we close down today. Number one is usually we have almost a 90 minute show for part one. That's because Steve put so much work into this. Which you just got, this from a guy spent years as an army diesel mechanic, is a better education on batteries then most of your master automotive technicians have. This is college-level stuff, but made easy. Tomorrow, Steve to come back and tell you how to put all this stuff together to build these backup systems in your car and in your home. I asked him to put the videos together. He spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars to buy all the things, to build all the various system so they can be detailed in these videos. The price he is selling at is really stupid cheap, $25. Come on, if this was four or five DVDs it would take the cover instead of downloadable videos, you're looking at probably most information products on Internet of $100 or more. And it would not be done to the quality and they would not be done to the level and they would not be done to the detail. When he comes the messing with stuff like this, you start looking at things have electricity in them. You start to worry about things like burning up your clothes because of acid or having your kid get into them. Or just hooking stuff up and not shorting it out and start a fire or hurting yourself. It's important know all the details and you configure it. Steve is going to come back tomorrow and tell you everything you need to know to do it, if you didn't have the videos. Having the videos gives you that confidence. Think of the biggest reason that people don't do things like build back up power stations, is  because they are afraid they are going to make a mistake that is going to cause a problem. By following through these videos you'll be able to do everything. It will be like having Steve stand with you. And Steve, I don't think you can afford to go to everybody's house and do it for $25 personally. But you can do it with the magic of video.


Steven Harris: Yep.


Jack Spirko: This took a lot of work. And for him to do this in 30 days blows me away. It would mean a lot to me if you guys could help supported him because content like this doesn't come from everybody. We have great guests but no one brings this is a table. It also would be a great Christmas present. For those of you guys working your butt’s off to define your goals on, how about for alternative energy, building a backup power system with battery backup. Steven, you’re even going to tomorrow tell people how to hook a solar panel into this as well because there was a lot of demand for that.


Steven Harris: Yes, Yes, you have all broke me down and I am going to tell you how to hook a solar panel into it. Actually Jack cost me nearly $3000 to buy everything to do all of this.


Jack Spirko: Guys, if you could really help Steve out and consider adding this to your prepper knowledge library. I think that would be great think. Steve, thank you for being here today and we'll have you back on tomorrow.


Steven Harris: I can't wait. Waiting to talk to you tomorrow guys. Come back it is going to be even more awesome than this show.


Jack Spirko: Alright folks, with that was with that this has been Jack Spirko today along with Steven Harris. Helping you figure out how the live that better life. If times get tough or even if they don't.

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