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Old 08-03-2010, 11:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Bringing Dead Optima Batteries Back to Life

The September, 2010 issue of Hot Rod Magazine "A Current Affair" (pages 74-76) article is well worth reading for those with AGM batteries such as Optima and I guess Odyssey. The article explains what happens when these type of batteries become discharged to the point that they won't recharge.

The detail of the article says the problem with deeply discharged batteries is that most battery chargers can not recognize the battery is present when the voltage is less than 4 and thus doesn't go into the charging mode.

I had this deep discharge happen to me with a six-month old Optima red top battery during my build. After working on the electrical one day I forgot to turn off the switch and went on vacation for long spell. When I got back the battery was dead and would not recharge. Luckily it was under warranty from O'Reilly and they replaced it. Of course I never admitted to O'Reilly what I had done or I'm guessing the warranty would be voided.

For those that don't have access to the magazine here's the summary:

"When an AGM battery won't charge by ordinary means, simply connect a second, well-charged battery (12.4 volts or better) in parallel with the dead unit - positive to positive, negative to negative. Then connect the charger to the pair. This will in effect trick the charger into delivering the necessary current to the discharged battery. Using this method, we brought several deep-discharged batteries back to life. Bye the way, this trick also works with conventional batteries, through it's not quite as effective."

I'm sure I'll drain a battery sooner or later and I'll try this method before digging out the receipt for the battery and going through the replacement process. Hope this helps someone in the future. Jim
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Good tip!!! But do you hook up the charger to the discharged battery or the charged battery, if it makes any difference?
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I believe the article shows the battery clips attached to the battery you are trying to charge but since it is hooked in parallel to the fully charged battery I'm not sure what difference it makes except the article says "After an hour or so you can remove the second battery and continue with the charge".

The article also recommends the use of "float chargers" or "battery tenders" which deliver a small but constant charge to keep the battery fresh and fully charged. -- "We've seen basic units for sales for around ten bucks".

I have a couple of friends with custom cars that typically don't start them for months at a time and use the "battery tenders" successfully.

I've seen threads mentioning remote battery connections to make it easier to connect the chargers. My battery is in the trunk and I have to pull four screws to get to the battery. Not a big deal but if I were doing it again I would have probably added remote battery connectors.
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Man, good timing, I have hope! I killed a Optima recently but didnt toss it. Thing looks brand new... I'll try this tomorrow and report if it works.
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My son drained the Optima in my truck down to nothing. I jumped the truck and ran it around to charge the battery. The battery would start the truck right after it had a charge in it but the next day it was dead again. I have been told that they need a high amp hook up to get them to take a charge so I'm not sure why the alternator which is a 120 amp unit didn't do the job.
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have heard that a Battery Tender or similar type chargers need to see a minimun voltage on the battery being charged. Hooking up a battery in parallel fools the charger that there is a minimum voltage present in the battery being charged.

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Old 08-06-2010, 04:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I read the article..They used a Harbor Freight charger..You "fool" the charger with hooking up a charged battery in parallel so it will charge the dead one..Once the battery is charged past six volts it can be normally charged..
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have had an optima red top in my twin turbo Nissan Z for about 4 years now. If the car sits for more than a couple months (ie winter storage), the battery is inresurrectable. Maybe my trickle charger is incompatible?

EDIT: Nice to have this info, will try it out.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hello, I noticed your conversation regarding our batteries and wanted to offer some assistance. The parallel charging technique described in the story Warsaw Jim mentioned is also explained in this video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIoaL3DWWEg

The threshold for recognizing a battery varies from charger to charger, so we generally suggest charging the deeply-discharged battery above 10.5 volts before disconnecting the healthy battery. Although the article doesn’t specifically mention it, this situation is not unique to Optima or any other AGM battery. This is an issue specific to many battery chargers. Jim, don’t feel bad about not being forthright with O’Reilly on your warranty claim. Many of the “bad” batteries returned to us now are just deeply-discharged. Although some manufacturers have dealt with this by simply voiding the warranty on their batteries if they have been discharged below 10 volts, our retailers are supposed to charge and check all returned batteries for this condition, prior to making an exchange.

Since the batteries are wired in parallel, it doesn’t make a difference how they are connected, although it might be easier to wire the deeply-discharged battery in the middle. That way, when it does reach an appropriate voltage level, you can just disconnect the healthy battery and continue charging the deeply-discharged battery.

The key to long battery life (regardless of brand), is to make sure your battery is always maintained with at least 12.4 volts, whenever possible. When batteries are discharged below that level, sulfation begins to diminish both performance and lifespan. That makes a battery tender or maintainer an excellent investment for any vehicle that is not driven daily.

Most alternators are designed to maintain batteries, not recharge deeply-discharged batteries. If a battery is discharged to the point where it needs a jump, we recommend fully recharging the battery with a battery charger as soon as possible. Relying on an alternator to recharge a deeply-discharged battery can lead to a cycle of dead batteries and jump-starts, until either the battery or alternator fails. Mike, we do not recommend using high-amp units like the one you described, as they can “cook” a battery. For regular charging, we recommend a maximum of 10 amps at 13.8 to 15 volts.

I should also mention that even though our batteries have a “sealed” design, all lead-acid batteries can vent gas. Under normal operating conditions, an AGM battery will not vent gas. Since alternators or chargers can fail, the safest and correct mounting method for trunks and passenger compartments is to make sure that any possible gas venting will escape to the outside of the vehicle. All vehicles with original equipment battery locations in trunks or passenger compartments will have a vent provision that should be used.

Our group 27, 51, 78, 34C, and 31 batteries all have ports for connecting a vent hose. Although people do it anyway, we would never recommend installing an unvented battery in any enclosed space, because there’s a legitimate, albeit unlikely, safety risk involved.

For example, IF there is a voltage regulator failure, and IF the battery is severely overcharged, and IF this goes unnoticed, and IF the battery vents because the internal pressure exceeds the release pressure of the vents, the gasses are both flammable and toxic. This may sound like a lot of “ifs,” but attorneys and engineers get paid to plan for every worst-case scenario. If you have any questions about our batteries, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Old 08-12-2010, 03:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for joining us Jim. I would bet that around 50% of us owners are using your batteries. Please don't be a stranger!! Welcome aboard.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Jim.

Thanks for taking the time and for providing great information. Do you have a good link for 'care and feeding' of your batteries?
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The article

http://www.hotrod.com/techarticles/g...ery/index.html

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Old 08-12-2010, 07:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Well I guess Beeman has a little egg on his face now. I've had a red top in my cobra for 5 years now, I give it a little shot with a trickel charger when ever it has set for a while, and all is good. Thanks for the great info Jim.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I am sure the above jumping technique works, but you could always purchase a battery charger with a Type-I and Type-II charging abilities. I purchased a dual charger some time ago and it works for the deep cycles. We were having issues with gel or deep cycles holding a charge after winter. The Type-I was not producing a deep enough charge for some electro physics reason. Purchased the dual charger and have 4 years going on the batteries. Works on the new motorcycle batteries for EFI, deep cycle and marine.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:19 PM   #15 (permalink)
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To add to this- this trick works for wet cell batteries also. I learned to do this back in ths 60's when I was working in a service station. Over the years since, I have resurrected many batteries that others have thrown out.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:53 PM   #16 (permalink)
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This does work on many batteries...

I have used another trick -

Put some jumper wires on a taillight bulb and hook it up to the battery - this will cause a load on the battery charger and cause it to feed current into the battery.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks for the welcome guys, I’m happy to help out. Our YouTube channel has several different videos on proper battery selection, care and maintenance, including this one- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z40SQCKWKNw

Since rem6a mentioned the “g” word, I should clarify that Optima batteries are not gel batteries. In most situations, a regular battery charger will work just fine on Optima batteries, but charging Optima batteries on “gel” or “gel/AGM” settings will not fully-charge an Optima and could damage it over time.

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Old 08-14-2010, 01:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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...great tips but too late for my Optima ....I swallowed the hook and bought an Optima..... it really never saw any use - I purchased it ...left it on a shelf for something like 16 months and I guess it just died....I could not charge it and the local Autozone could not either. I will point out that I was given a pro rated replacement value on the warranty remaining.

I'll assume that many have had better experiences but for me that was too much hassle for a top dollar battery. Back to regular batteries for me.

Jim: Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the big selling point of spiral cell batteries (Optima) is the ability to hold a charge for long periods of shelf life....this is what I thought I paid for? Anyway.... I was so pissed off that my new Optima bit the dust that I walked away from the technology. Bring me back to the club.... why should I spend the big bucks on an Optima?
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Old 08-14-2010, 02:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I don't remember what year it was but I bought a Super Gas 1969 Nova from a friend who moved up to Super Comp. He kept the motor so I put together a 500+ CI BBC and upgraded some of the systems. We installed one of the early Red Tops. That thing was abused for 5 seasons and was doing fine when I sold the car. Every time we had a battery issues with one of the cars or trucks we would steal the RT out of the race car and use it until we could replace the battery. I picked up a Blue Top a friend was going to use in his camper for real cheap and it's going in my hot rod. I've had 4 Optima batteries in the last ten years or so, no issues at all.
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:00 AM   #20 (permalink)
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After watching the Optima video on youtube on bringing their batteries back, I decided to buy a CTEK 7002 battery charger. It has a mode for restoring batteries and the guy from Optima said its great for bringing their batteries back.

The Optima had 5 volts when I started. Just a couple hours into an approx 4 hour process the battery was back to 11.5 volts... so its coming back... Yeah!
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Old 08-15-2010, 01:34 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by David Borden View Post
After watching the Optima video on youtube on bringing their batteries back, I decided to buy a CTEK 7002 battery charger. It has a mode for restoring batteries and the guy from Optima said its great for bringing their batteries back.

The Optima had 5 volts when I started. Just a couple hours into an approx 4 hour process the battery was back to 11.5 volts... so its coming back... Yeah!
If its a red top, it probably is toast, unfortunately. (Ironically, I think I just toasted mine two days ago when I left my headlights on.)

I've been using Optima batteries for fifteen years in all my various custom cars, and while the yellow tops can handle a deep discharge, I've never had a red top survive a drop that low in voltage. It'll charge, it'll seem to be holding it for a while, but it won't last. In fact, before I started standardizing on building in trickle chargers in my cars, I was going through a red top a year because of that.

I almost went yellow top this time, but since I started building in the chargers so I can plug cars in over the winter, I haven't killed a red top. Figures I did it this time with the headlights.

Hopefully you have better luck. They're great batteries, definitely my battery of choice. They just can't deal with deep discharges.
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Jim: Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the big selling point of spiral cell batteries (Optima) is the ability to hold a charge for long periods of shelf life....this is what I thought I paid for? Anyway.... I was so pissed off that my new Optima bit the dust that I walked away from the technology. Bring me back to the club.... why should I spend the big bucks on an Optima?
Hi Kevin,

I'm not a sales guy, but I'll do my best to at least explain good battery storage procedures. Our batteries can hold a charge for much longer periods of time than conventional flooded batteries, but a lot of factors enter into the equation. While it's ok to store any modern battery on concrete, batteries do better in cool, dry locations. Extreme temperatures (both hot & cold) will accelerate discharge rates and shorten battery life. Also, when storing a battery that is disconnected from any power source or parasitic draw, the battery should be fully-charged (approximately 12.6-12.8 volts for RedTops and 13.0-13.2 volts for YellowTops). All stored batteries will slowly discharge, so they should also be checked every few months, to make sure they are maintaining at least 12.4 volts.

As I mentioned before, when batteries are discharged below 12.4 volts and are allowed to sit in that state for extended periods of time, they will experience both diminished performance and lifespan. If your battery does get discharged below 10 volts, we won't void your warranty simply for that reason and if you do need warranty service, you don't have to ship your battery anywhere if you bought it at a local retailer.

There are a lot of other selling points for our batteries, but one of the most-popular features is the "sealed" design. This both minimizes the chance of acid damage on your vehicle, while allowing users to mount our batteries in nearly any orientation (except upside down).

Whether you buy another one of our batteries or not, if you can maintain at least 12.4 volts in the batteries you do have, you should see longer life and better performance.

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Old 08-17-2010, 05:59 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
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If its a red top, it probably is toast, unfortunately. (Ironically, I think I just toasted mine two days ago when I left my headlights on.)

I've been using Optima batteries for fifteen years in all my various custom cars, and while the yellow tops can handle a deep discharge, I've never had a red top survive a drop that low in voltage. It'll charge, it'll seem to be holding it for a while, but it won't last. In fact, before I started standardizing on building in trickle chargers in my cars, I was going through a red top a year because of that.

I almost went yellow top this time, but since I started building in the chargers so I can plug cars in over the winter, I haven't killed a red top. Figures I did it this time with the headlights.

Hopefully you have better luck. They're great batteries, definitely my battery of choice. They just can't deal with deep discharges.
You might be right. Purchase the CTEK 7002 charger feeling confident it would come back and I dont think it did. I'll check voltage again tonight but the charger didnt get out the charge mode even after charging for 24 hours. Cant imagine it would take that long.

Optima Jim, is there any way to get a warranty replacement on a battery I dont have a reciept on? Is there a code on the battery or something? The battery is nearly new, just dont have a receipt.

David
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:28 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Hi David,

I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve been having. If you are using a CTEK charger, I would just give it some time. The CTEK manual even specifically indicates that a sulfated battery will only accept current with difficulty and as a result, the charging process on such a battery could take a particularly long time. It also mentions that it could take up to three days for the charger to switch over to maintenance charge mode.

If you do end up needing warranty service, having the original receipt does make the process easier. If you don’t have the receipt, but have some form of proof of purchase, such as a cancelled check or credit card statement with sensitive information blacked out, I can probably help you. Many retailers will also keep computerized records of purchases, so if your battery is nearly new, there’s a good chance they will still have a record of your purchase. Please keep me posted!

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