Charging voltage seems a little high on my Alarm Panel?

I have a cheap Solar alarm system with an internal Alarm Panel fed by a 12v plug in PSU.
Recently I had a power fail and noticed that the panel went dead.. When I checked the internal Lead-Acid battery it was at 4v and was STUFFED.
Took some advice from our 'Battery Expert' at work and learned that a Lead-Acid battery charges at 14.2 and floats at 13.8 volts.
So I ordered a new battery, installed it, let it charge for a few days and then checked the voltage..
I can currently measure 15.1v across the battery, which seems wrong.. But should I worry about it?
99% of people with alarms wouldn't have a 'battery expert' to talk to and wouldn't even know to worry about this.. It could be a fault on the panel, but equally, it would be just a cr*p design.
Should I just live with it like this, or should I try and find a way of bringing the voltage across the battery down a little?
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In general a 12v lead-acid accumulator should be kept between 10.8v and 13.8v. If drained below 10.8v then excessive sulphate is deposited on the plates. If charged above 13.8v then excessive gas is produced, which can result in a significant loss of electrolyte.
In the RS Catalogue the charging information for lead acid cells is 2.3v/cell float, and 2.4v/cell cyclic. That's equivalent to 13.8v and 14.4v for a 12v battery.
The RS two-stage chargers generally do a bulk charge aiming towards 14.4v then, as the charging current falls back, switch to a 13.8v permanent maintenance charge.
So 15.1v does seem a little high. It could be due to overcharging, or it could be due to an accumulator with a higher-than-normal internal series resistance.
--
Tony Williams.

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     snipped-for-privacy@alcatel.co.uk (Jon Weaver) writes:

Yes. If you put your ear to the battery, you will probably hear it gassing at that voltage (certainly by 16V I've heard this). This kills a SLA battery.

Either.
Perhaps there's some adjustment. Do you know your voltmeter it accurate?
--
Andrew Gabriel

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My meter is very accurate so its not that.. I have spoke to the manufacturer today and they have advised that they don't even incorporate any kind of charging circuitry in the panel.. Its simply charges across the +v and -v supply to the panel, so this does sound like a crap design..
In my case, perhaps the PSU is providing slightly too much voltage. I am guessing that a regulated may not be the solution, as that will be regulated to 12volts which will be too low for charging.
I will do some checks on the PSU later and see exactly how much voltage its kicking out and will then try a different PSU to see what happens.
Jon
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On 26/01/2004 Jon Weaver opined:-

Agreed.
A 12v output would not even maintain the battery.

Just one thing.... There is not much point to measuring the voltage of the PSU, unless it is under normal load conditions. Off load it will be likely a volt or two high.
Something which might prove useful.... You can lower the output voltage of a DC power supply, by inserting diodes in series. Each additional diode will lower the voltage by about 0.65v. So your 15.1v would drop to 14.4v with one diode in series, or 13.8v with two extra diodes in series.
Assuming the PSU is rated at less than 1amp output, then 1N001 diodes would be adequate.
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Harry (M1BYT) (Lap)
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too embarassingly that if you just stick a couple of diodes in the wire to the battery, it'll reduce the charge voltage just nicely, but stop any current flowing back *out* of the battery when the PSU drops out! A moment's further reflection suggests one way out of that hole is to put another diode across the two our poster probably wants (for dropping to 13.8/13.9V from the 15.1) "pointing" the other way, allowing the backup current to flow when the panel needs it - at the expense of dropping the 0.6V or so in that case (unless you use a germanium diode for a smaller drop of around 0.1V).
HTH - Stefek
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Harry Bloomfield retched Charging voltage seems a little high on my Alarm Panel? onto my recliner:

Diodes new album is good.
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Phil K.

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It can't simply be wired across the PS if you're seeing 15.1 volts, since a lead acid battery has a low internal resistance and would draw a *lot* of current when charging. There must be at least a series resistance to limit the maximum current to something the PS can manage - probably less than one amp.
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Lead Acid accumulators have been around for a long time, and it is very well-documented that the permanent charge voltage should not exceed 13.8V..... above this voltage gas is produced, resulting in loss of electrolyte and a drastic shortening of the capacity/life of the accumulator.
If all your facts are correct it could be said that the manufacturers have (knowingly?) produced and sold goods that are "not fit for the purpose intended". In which case you may wish to bring it to the attention of your local Trading Standards department.
Supporting documentation for your case could be;
a) Any Elec Eng textbook that has a chapter on secondary cells will remark on the effects of charging a lead acid battery above 2.3 to 2.35V per cell.
b) The battery mfrs data sheets will specify how a battery is to be charged, including a figure for the maximum Float Voltage.
c) A long term monitoring of the battery voltage.
Note; The gasses produced during overcharging are hydrogen and oxygen. So a lead acid accumulator should never be overcharged when in an enclosed and/or unventilated space. Deliberate or unconsidered overcharging of a battery-in-a-box would seem to be a foolish thing for a mfr to do.
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Tony Williams.

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On 27/01/2004 Tony Williams opined:-

It is a known fact, that you usually get what you pay for. Battery backed alarm systems are nortorius for for badly designed charging systems and regular need for battery replacements.
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Harry (M1BYT)...
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I'd check to see if my meter was reading properly first. The meter may just be showing the 14.4 volt as 15 ? odds because your meter has a +- variation on its scale, so this needs to be checked first before you can actually say that the voltage is to high. This is especially because the voltage you're reading and the actual voltage that the battery needs on its float charge cycle are so close to each other.
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On 26/01/2004 Jon Weaver a wrote :

Yes you should....
Assuming your test meter is accurate, then your new battery can not be expected to survive for long at that charge voltage. The usual recommended way to recharge such a battery is at 14.2v until fully charged, then to fall back to around 13.8v to maintain it.
The only solution I can think of is something to provide a load across the battery to limit the voltage rise. If you have an electronically minded mate, talk to him about putting a zenor diode and a power transistor across the battery.
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Harry Bloomfield retched Charging voltage seems a little high on my Alarm Panel? onto my recliner:

Nobody breeds with electronic minded folk, ask Ray.
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Phil K.

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Thanks all for your help.. I am going to build a regulator, which will reduce the amount of voltage that I am putting into the pannel.
The regulator I have in mind, will have an adjustment so that I can vary the voltage.. Then I can 'tune' it to give me 13.8v at the battery.
I dont' want to do anything on the battery input/output, as whilst it will help the battery charge, it could have implications if/when the power fails and the battery is used to power the panel.
I think that the best way to fix this would be restrict the voltage where it comes into the panel.
Many thanks for your advise.. I think that I will remove the battery for now, so that I don't cook it any more than it already has for the past few days!
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'float' the battery (i.e. not overcharge if continuously connected) varies with temperature so you have to temperature compensate the output voltage.
You also probably want to charge (as opposed to maintain) the battery with a slightly higher voltage to ensure that it gets fully charged and recharges reasonably quickly.
--
Chris Green

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I'd say a constant voltage 13.8v device should do ok - it's not as if power cuts are an everyday occurrence, so the battery taking a while longer to charge than possible shouldn't really matter.
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London SW 12

I recall one of my text books in the dim and dark past had a diagram of a monitoring battery charger which I built and then found the circuit diagram had an important error in it so the bloody thing didn't work. I sussed out what the circuit should have been and corrected it, then it gave sterling service for many years looking after the battery on a standby diesel generator. Prior to that time the battery was steadily bubbling away and drying out when it got forgotten. I incorporated a charge ampmeter and it was interesting to watch the battery being charged up after use until the float voltage reached design level then the charge current dropped to zero with occasional kicks on the meter as it detected voltage fall and popped a bit more charge in to compensate. I think the whole box of tricks came to about 20 quid in them days including a cheapo Halford charger which provided the transformer casing, and leads etc (time not included). I cant recall the book title but I'm pretty sure the author was Olsen or something like that.
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     snipped-for-privacy@alcatel.co.uk (Jon Weaver) writes:

The easiest thing to do would probably be to replace the existing plug in PSU with a plug in Sealed Lead Acid charger, and these are not prohibitively expensive. Only issue is you would always have to keep a battery connected, as the charger would likely produce strange voltages if you tried to use it as a power supply with no battery load.
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Andrew Gabriel

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