John Drake Services, Inc.
1427 E. 68th Street
Long Beach, CA 90805
electricity from the sun by John Drake II | home
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Not trying to sound like a broken record - but always
wear eye protection when working around batteries.
That said, here are a some stories that should prove a point.
In my youth, I worked in a truck shop.
We had a large portable air compressor with an electric start gasoline engine.
The air hose bracket on the side had broken off of the frame.
A fellow I worked with, Bill, asked me to hold the bracket in place while he
welded it back on.
The engine had a huge battery and a good sized battery charger.
As we had left our thinking caps at home, we did not notice that the battery
charger was plugged in and set at a high charge rate.
As soon as Bill struck the arc, the side of battery blew out and there was a
short-lived fire ball above it.
We decided it was time to change clothes and take a coffee break until
we got over the willies.
When I was a kid, my uncle Ernie was doing cell load tests on a large
24 volt battery (yup, a single 24 volt battery for trucks).
It was connected to one of those huge wheeled battery chargers.
He was distracted by something else in the shop and forgot
to shut the charger off and wait for everything to settle down and the gases to dissipate.
That earned him a trip to the hospital to have pieces of rubber (in the old days
many battery cases were made of rubber) removed
from his legs and the acid burns treated.
On one of my first installations I was shooting the breeze with the customer
while I was connecting the cables on a 12 volt system
made up of eight 6 volt golf cart batteries.
Once again the thinking cap was not on my head and instead of grabbing
a palm ratchet (short handle that can not reach between the battery terminals)
I was using a standard ratchet to tighten down the
nuts on the cable lugs.
Of course as I spun the ratchet around it made a dead short between the
terminals on a fully charged battery.
The good part was that it only cratered the handle of the ratchet.
The bad part was an eighty mile round trip to buy another battery, on my
dime of course, as one battery terminal was scarred up
and the other went into parts unknown.
And yes, we were both wearing safety glasses.
In the grand scheme of things, batteries can not store a lot of
energy when compared to power coming in from the utility
company - but they can unleash a tremendous amount of energy in a
very short period of time in a short circuit condition.
The short story, when installing or maintaining batteries, take your time and
think things through.
There are some "oops" that you can not undo.