All batteries have a definite life cycle that doesn’t let you push them past a certain threshold. Depending on proper maintenance, you can achieve it sooner or later. In the case of lead-acid batteries, sulfation is a common issue. The lead sulfate deposits on the electrodes inhibit their ability to react with the sulfuric acid. That reduces the battery density and increases the probability of an electric fire.
It may be too complex to remove those sulfate deposits from the battery by dismantling it. Luckily, you can use a battery desulfator for the job instead. Still, it can be challenging to choose the most appropriate model, given how many variants are flooding the market. This guide will highlight the best battery desulfators 2023 for various budgets and applications.
What Is a Battery Desulfator?
As you use up a battery, sulfate crystals can form on the electrodes during the electrochemical reactions. While you can expect a few small deposits, those can increase in density over time. The following factors can accelerate the formation of crystals within the battery.
- Charging the battery from a completely discharged state
- Storing the battery in too low/high temperatures
- Using a charger with excessive current density
- Leaving the terminals uncleaned
A battery desulfator can help you dissolve those deposits without meddling with the finer parts of the battery. In addition, you can stay safe from the risk of electrical fires or the electrolyte spilling out. While it’s similar to a trickle charger, it takes far longer to recharge a battery and can remove most deformities within the cells. Since it regenerates the concentration of sulfate ions within the solution, it’s also known as a ‘battery regenerator.’
How Many Types of Battery Desulfators Are There?
Depending on their configuration, you can avail of the best battery desulfators 2023 from the following types.
Dedicated battery regenerators are bulkier but pack plenty of features that make them ideal for several situations. You can use them for almost all lead acid batteries, sometimes without even setting configurations. An excellent model can increase the battery life by up to 50%. It can also save you prolonged hours of tedious maintenance, which can often prove hazardous if you’re unfamiliar with electronics.
The best battery sulfators typically cost around $100, although you can buy portable variants for about $50. They don’t require much charge for a specific duration, but any interruption may leave your battery vulnerable to other defects. Therefore, it’s best to maintain a consistent power supply for the duration of the process.
Battery Chargers and Maintainers
A few battery maintainers and chargers come with a desulfating feature. Although, it helps to check in with the manufacturer or go through the manual to determine how to use it properly. There are a few noteworthy examples later in this guide.
If you’re used to battery chargers and maintainers (both being quite similar in function), it helps to have a desulfation feature equipped for keeping the battery healthy. Although, keep in mind that you can drain your battery faster if you don’t have the appropriate charger. So, ensure that you have a compatible output with the charger/maintainer using a multimeter, regardless of the rating.
What Are Some Key Features of a Battery Desulfator?
All battery desulfators have critical features that separate the variants from each other. Those can vary depending upon the type of desulfator, but some of the most popular ones include the following.
Not all battery desulfators are compatible with every battery in existence. Since most of them work within a particular range, it helps to choose the version most compatible with your battery. Most inverter and vehicle batteries (used in cars, ATVs, pickups, and SUVs) have a 12V battery. Massive vehicles like RVs and boats might have 48V variants.
Most desulfators automatically adjust to the battery density. However, there are devices where you must manually adjust the correct voltage. You can read the manual or the front cover of the packaging before deciding to buy the product.
Charging and Maintaining
Sure, a primary battery desulfator offers everything you need to remove those lead sulfate crystals in an old battery. But, there are variants with regular battery chargers and maintainers that include the function within a single package. Those can make your investments more efficient while reducing the storage requirement by half.
Still, it’s best to choose the appropriate version of the charger or maintainer. Avoid products with a speed-charging capacity, as they can accelerate the sulfation process or spark a charge within the electrolyte. A few versions can even reduce the battery life by stressing the electrodes to a massive extent. While the current doesn’t pose a problem, you must ensure the charger/maintainer can apply adequate voltage.
The temperature of the surroundings can have adverse effects on the battery. Most of them are designed for standard room temperature with minimal humidity. Too hot, and the electrolytes can evaporate or react more corrosively with the electrodes. Too cold, and the process might slow down, reducing the available battery density that can be supplied to the circuit.
Therefore, you’re better off with a desulfator with ambient temperature compensation. Such devices have thermal and humidity sensors that modify the voltage and current output depending on the environmental conditions.
How To Use a Battery Desulfator?
The formation of sulfate crystals causes a resistance buildup within the cells, similar to eddy currents in an induction coil. A battery desulfator utilizes precise frequencies for delivering the current in the form of pulses. The sudden charge supply stimulates the sulfate ions and dissolves them within the solution.
Before a battery desulfator can perform its function, it determines the appropriate frequency for the process. In most cases, that ranges anywhere between 4 to 6 megahertz. Yet, the current at those frequencies is only around 300 mA, so it takes an extended duration to clear the sulfation. Depending on the battery’s energy density, you can expect to leave it non-functional from 48 hours to one week. As such, it is best to ensure that you have a backup battery for the concerned application.
See full this video: How to recover a battery using battery desulfator
How Much Does a Battery Desulfator Cost?
You can purchase a battery desulfator for anywhere between $200 to $1400. Although the less expensive ones are more portable, the higher-end versions pack plenty of safety and self-adjustment features. On the other hand, you can get great value on battery chargers and maintainers that already have a desulfation function built-in.
Best Battery Desulfators 2023
There are several variants, both online and at your nearest electronics store, that you can choose from. A few notable examples are listed below.
Best Overall: Schumacher SP1359 Fully Automatic Battery Charger
If you’re looking for the best variant for domestic and commercial uses, then the Schumacher SP1359 can prove the ideal choice. It’s less than five pounds in weight, including the cables, and can function for years without requiring maintenance. It automatically detects the issues with the battery and fixes them over time. You can use it as a trickle charger or maintainer as well.
Best Value: NOCO GENIUS5, 5A Smart Car Battery Charger
If you want a less expensive yet robust charger for all battery types, you can go for the NOCO GENIUS5. It’s light enough to pack into a small backpack or purse. You can use it to revive batteries that are as low as 1 Volt. The GENIUS5 can work with AGM, Li-ion, FLA, and deep cycle batteries, quickly attaching to the terminals using its X-Connect clips.
Its best feature is that it can automatically detect the sulfation levels in the batteries and repair them within a relatively short duration. The current can vary from 100 mA to 5 A, depending upon the type of charging active at the time.
Honorable Mention: BatteryMINDer 1500
The BatteryMINDer 1500 is a 12 Volt battery charger with a maximum current capacity of 1.5 A. Although it’s less portable than the NOCO GENIUS5, it has almost a similar feature set. Thanks to its automatic ambient temperature control, it can prove to be an efficient battery desulfator. You can disconnect the cables and make the charger portable enough to fit small compartments within your vehicle.
Although you might have to adjust a few settings, the BatteryMINDer 1500 is a cost-effective option that can suit multiple applications. The manufacturer claims you can extend the battery life to nearly double using the battery maintainer.
Most User-Friendly: Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700
One of the most intuitive automobile equipment pieces that you can buy for any vehicle. The Clore Automotive JNC660 is a multifunctional charger that works with cars, bikes, boats, ATVs, SUVs, trucks, etc. Combined with an intelligent charger from the same manufacturer, you have everything you need to repair or maintain any battery you come across.
Its extensive array of sensors and highly configurable settings let you ensure the maximum life span from both lead acid and Li-ion batteries. You can jump-start a battery, keep it preserved, or revive it from low voltage. While the desulfation process is not as swift as other chargers in this guide, its multi-phase charging feature more than makes up for it.
Best Compact: NOCO GENIUS1
For those who want to focus on portability, you can’t go smaller than the NOCO GENIUS1. It’s one of the most portable chargers compatible with multiple battery types and energy densities. You can use it for long hours without any electrical issues, which is a surprise given that the charger fits on an adult palm.
The only disadvantage is that there are no automatic functions. You have to configure the device whenever you want to change its function. While most people will be okay with it, the process can get tedious with tiny plastic buttons. The display can also be hard to read in the rain or during a snowstorm. It’s not ideal when you’re trying to jump-start a car that is caught in a blizzard.
Most Comprehensive: Schumacher SC1280
As a comprehensive solution, the Schumacher SC1280 is a fully Automatic battery charger and maintainer for motorcycle, car, marine, and SUV batteries. It comes with a host of temperature compensation and desulfation features, letting you obtain the best condition for your battery every time you connect the cables. The design is also entirely modular, letting you place it vertically, horizontally, or hang it over a hook, depending on the circumstances.
However, it’s only compatible with 6V and 12V batteries, which can limit its usability with heavier vehicles. The bulky design can be an issue for some as well. You will only have a little space in your rider’s pack if you have a 3-pound charger stashed within it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a Battery Desulfator Really Work?
Yes. A decent battery desulfator can help you immensely extend a lead acid battery’s life. In addition, the battery is far less likely to give in to the external elements or catch fire due to overloading.
How Many Volts Does It Take to Desulfate a Battery?
It depends upon the precise voltage of the battery. Typically, you need to deliver at least 120% of the battery’s voltage with very low current density to desulfate a battery. Of course, those numbers change with the degree of desulfation. That’s why smart chargers come in handy.
Can You Desulfate a Deep Cycle Battery?
Yes. Deep cycle batteries also have the issue of sulfate crystals forming on the electrodes. You may need a specialized battery desulfator for those, but you can also use Epsom salts to desulfate such batteries.
How Long Does It Take to Desulfate a Battery?
Desulfation can take a few hours if you’re willing to take the battery apart. Exposed electrodes get purified as soon as you apply a fundamental solution to them. If you don’t feel comfortable exercising your electrical skills, you can go for an automatic battery desulfator. However, this process may take up to a week, depending on the battery’s capacity.
Do Desulfators Work on AGM Batteries?
Desulfation is the process of using the reversibility of the crystal formation and maintaining the balance of the ions in the electrolyte. The AGM batteries can be desulfated using a compatible desulfator or battery maintainer. These smart devices automatically detect the sulfation rate in the battery and remove it by choosing the best suitable desulfation profile for the battery.
What Happens When You Desulfate a Battery?
If electricity pulses of low power but the high frequency and voltage are sent into the battery, the rhythmic resonance of the plates causes the crystal deposits to split. The sulfate makes its way back to the electrolyte solution. However, this method of desulfation takes three to four weeks usually, during which the battery must be trickle charged, i.e., charged in parallel to the desulfator. That way, the battery gets rejuvenated and completely charged.
How Do You Manually Desulfate a Battery?
You must follow the steps mentioned below to manually desulfate a battery.
- Check the battery voltage using a multimeter. If it’s low enough (less than 30% of the total charge), you can disconnect it from the circuit and remove the seals for each cell.
- Next, you need to loosen the screws holding the terminals in place and examine the electrodes. Depending on the density of the sulfate crystals, you can measure the appropriate amount of Epsom salts you need to add to the solution.
- Drain the electrolyte entirely from the battery. You may save it in an insulated vessel for recycling.
- Fill the battery with distilled water and add Epsom salts. You must add at least 50 grams for every liter of water. The quantity may increase for batteries with heavy sulfation.
- Dip the electrodes into the solution and connect them to a trickle charger or a battery maintainer. After some time, you can observe the sulfate crystals dissipating and bubbles forming in the solution. Even if they dissipate, you have to let the current flow for a few minutes.
- Once you ensure the electrodes are clean, you can put the battery back together and use it as intended.
You require a comprehensive solution whenever you come across issues with your battery. With so many electrical parts in the works, there’s no telling what can go wrong. Thus, choosing from the best battery desulfators 2023 can save you thousands of dollars in replacements and repairs. We hope this guide provides you with a solution suitable to your needs.