The question “Can you overcharge a lawn mower battery?” is a common one among gardeners, and the answer to this conundrum is that it is not only possible but a recurrent problem we face on behalf of lawn mower owners.
People who rely on cheap chargers that continue automatically and are not voltage controlled eventually end up decreasing their lawn mower’s battery life or damaging it altogether. Our team discusses this problem in detail and how to prevent overcharging batteries.
- Is It Possible to Overcharge Your Lawn Mower Battery?
- How Do You Prevent Lawn Mower Battery Overcharging?
- How Do You Safely Charge a Mower Battery?
Is It Possible to Overcharge Your Lawn Mower Battery?
Yes, it is possible to overcharge your lawn mower battery, so you will need to charge with more care. Older lead-acid batteries are easily damaged by overcharging, whereas rechargeable lithium-ion mower batteries are slightly better tolerant of overcharging but will still acquire damage.
Chances are that most of you are still using any old regular charger for your batteries of lawn mowers. The charging time varies according to the size of the battery and the amperes of these trickle chargers.
Keep an eye on when the mower becomes fully charged to turn the charger off. Cheap and fast type of chargers also ends up overcharging the batteries. It is very easy to overestimate how much time it could take to recharge the battery.
Here are some effects of overcharging on your lawn mower’s health and lifespan.
– Overcharging Releases Toxic Gases
Lawnmower batteries, when overcharged, release toxic gases that are not good for anyone. In the lead acid type of batteries, this can have life-threatening consequences. These batteries produce hydrogen gas when overcharged, which can cause an explosion in case of poor ventilation.
In other cases, sulfide gas might be produced within the battery. You can easily smell this gas being produced because of its nasty rotten eggs smell. It would significantly make you sick and even be fatal in large quantities.
– Temperature of the Battery Will Increase
Rising temperature is one of the best indicators that your battery has been overcharged. Every time you overcharge, the battery will become hotter quicker than before. There comes the point when the temperatures within the battery will rise to such an extent that it causes some pretty serious damage.
This is called a thermal runway and must be avoided at all costs. Once the battery reaches the point of the thermal runway, there is no way to stop it from heating more and more. On a very basic level, a runaway is a chemical reaction that sustains itself and is difficult to control.
Overheated lead acid batteries face another major problem. The battery needs water mixed with sulfuric acid to work, and this water begins to evaporate when the temperature within the battery rise. Most batteries do not have adequate ventilation to release these vapors. As a result, intense pressure will develop in the battery, and it might begin to swell.
– The Battery’s Capacity Will Decrease
Occasionally overcharging lawn mower batteries to a few volts higher than normal is not that big of a deal. Modern batteries have been designed to withstand slightly higher voltages without much deterioration. For example, a typical 12-volt battery will typically be able to store a charge of upto 14 volts with no problem at all.
Still, it would be best to not make overcharging a long-term habit. When repeatedly overcharged, batteries slowly lose their capacity to hold a charge. You will see that the battery starts to drop sooner than before and needs more frequent recharges. This is true whether you have a lead-acid or a lithium-ion battery running your mower.
– Overcharging Is Potentially Dangerous
Habitual overcharging lawnmowers will eventually destroy their batteries. The continual rise in temperature, discharge of toxic gases, and the breakdown of battery parts will eventually cause it to start swelling and bulging.
If your battery seems to be swelling, this means that it has already begun to break down from within. Some mower batteries start leaking fluids instead of bulging outwards. Only lead-acid battery types tend to leak fluids when distressed. Be extremely cautious when dealing with this because the leaking fluid is acid. Don on your thickest rubber gloves and take the battery to an experienced mechanic as soon as possible.
The good news is that most batteries have thermal and toxic gas sensors that prevent a complete meltdown of the battery and keep it from blowing up. We still urge you to pay attention to the warning signs and have the defective battery checked at the first sign of trouble.
How Do You Prevent Lawn Mower Battery Overcharging?
To prevent lawn mower battery overcharging, you can try investing in an automatic charger for your machine, building a circuit that prevents overcharging, keeping a close eye on the battery while it charges, or going for a voltage regulator for the mower’s engine.
Let us look at these four clever ways to keep your batteries from overcharging ever again.
1. Invest in Automatic Chargers
Using the right charger will never allow your battery to get overcharged. Take care of the original one that came with the mower and try to make it last as long as possible. Otherwise, buy automatic chargers that will stop feeding electricity into the battery once it is full and will let you know as well.
If your battery is 12 volts, then a 12 volts charger with a flow of 10 amperes per hour is a must. If not, look for a voltage-regulated one that allows you to set the voltage of your choice. Ditch and exchange those rapid chargers for regular ones.
2. Build a Circuit That Prevents Overcharge
Building an overcharge protection circuit will give your battery an extra layer of safety if you are good with electric equipment. Even if you can’t build one yourself, we are sure your local hardware professional can put one in for you.
With this circuit in place, the connection between the charger and the battery automatically becomes null after a set time has passed, so that even if you have to use a non-automatic charger or forget to unplug it, your battery will stay safe.
3. Keep a Close Eye on the Battery While It Charges
This is easy, but only a few can commit to this method. All you have to do is be vigilant about when to disconnect the charger from the switch.
Most chargers take a set amount of time to charge the battery in one go. Notice how much time yours takes, then set a timer each time you charge your machine. This would ensure you remember to take the charger out when it’s done and no later.
4. Go for a Voltage Regulator
A voltage regulator also helps with overcharging as it disconnects the mower’s engine from its battery. The engine will only use power from the battery at a particular voltage.
It can strain the battery when used for a long period, though, and must be used with a trickle charger only.
How Do You Safely Charge a Mower Battery?
To safely charge a mower’s battery, make sure you are wearing protective clothing and follow important safety precautions. Use a 12-volt battery charger and connect it to the lawn mower’s battery. Keep the charger plugged in until it is fully charged, and unplug it immediately after.
Learn how to charge your lawn mower’s battery professionally to make it last as long as possible. This will also prevent overcharging, battery damage, and potential damages from occurring.
1. Follow Important Safety Precautions First
Wear thick rubber gloves when dealing with potentially dangerous electric equipment. Change your shirts and shorts for full-sleeved clothing that does not leave your skin bare. Wear safety goggles to keep sparks from getting into your eyes.
For those who wear metallic jewelry on their hands, take them off during charging. Ensure the engine is turned off first, then take the spark plug off. This is important for preventing the engine from turning on accidentally.
Go through the instructions manual of your mower to see if the manufacturers have given any special instructions for charging batteries.
2. Find Out Where the Lawn Mower Battery Is Located
If you know where the mower’s battery is located, refer to its instructions manual for guidance. In most riding lawnmowers, the battery is either under the seat or the hood. Lift the seat or the hood to gain access to it.
There are many different lawn mower designs, and your battery might be elsewhere. Even if your instructions manual has been misplaced, you can still go online and check the manufacturer’s website regarding the location of the battery.
It would help if you kept the battery in its place to charge it. This is much more convenient and safer than removing and attaching batteries each time for charging.
3. Use a 12-Volt Battery Charger
Lawn mower batteries display on a label the voltage at which they operate. Check it out to see the voltage of your battery. Most newer models operate on 12 volts, but there may be some older models with a six-volt battery for which you will need a six volts charger.
For most batteries, purchase a standard 12-volts charger, preferably from the same manufacturer. Make sure that the charger runs on at most 10 Amperes per hour. Chargers with amperes more than this are not suitable for lawnmowers.
Some chargers come with the option of adjustable amperes per hour. These might be more expensive than ordinary chargers but can be used on different batteries, which is a major plus point.
4. Connect the Charger and the Battery
Find out where the battery’s positive and negative terminals are located and clean them using a paper napkin. Before connecting the charger to the battery, disconnect the charger from the electricity supply first.
The color red, the letter P, or the plus sign mostly denote the battery’s positive terminal. First, the battery’s positive terminal needs to be connected to the positive clamp of the charger. Then connect the battery’s negative terminal to the charger’s negative clamp.
An N, a negative sign, or the color black denotes the negative terminal. Once these terminals are connected, move away from the mower and plug the charger back into the socket.
5. Keep the Battery Plugged in Until Charged
An adjustable charger helps you decide the right voltage, amperes, and charging time. Adjust the settings on it to match the voltage and the ampere of the mower battery. Even if the charger is of a fast type, still go for an average charging time and speed.
Before turning the voltage regulator charger’s switch on, ensure everything is set and settled. Allow the battery to charge while keeping it continually plugged. An automatic charger will turn off automatically when the battery becomes fully charged.
6. Unplug the Charger
If the charger isn’t automatic, then notice the time when you switch the charger switch on. After exactly one hour, your 12 volts battery would have charged fully. The charging indicator will also display a fully charged sign or turn completely green. Be sure to plug the charger off after one hour is over.
Remove the charger’s clamps from both terminals of the battery. In the case of a lead-acid battery, you must wait five to six minutes after turning the charger off before you can unplug the terminals. While unplugging, disconnect the negative terminal first and the positive terminal next.
Such a long and comprehensive guide calls for a brief recap as our conclusive words.
- It is easy to overcharge a lawn mower battery when the charger is not automatic, and you need to keep a vigilant eye over it.
- When a battery is constantly overcharged, it gets overheated and produces toxic fumes.
- Always invest in a good-quality automatic battery charger that is voltage regulated and runs on 12 amperes per hour.
- The least you can do to prevent your riding mower’s battery from overcharging is to keep an eye on it so that you can turn it off at exactly 100 percent.
Take lawn mower charging seriously for good battery life and an engine that runs smoothly. Always try to charge your batteries in one go and use the best quality charger, preferably from the company that manufactured your lawn mower.
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