November 2001 Safety Thoughts

Battery Safety

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer

As the riding season comes to an end and we put our bikes in storage for the winter, some special care needs to be taken to make sure the bike's battery will be ready when it's riding season again. During winter storage, unless you store your bike in a heated garage, the battery should be removed and stored separately in a warm, well-ventilated area.

When removing the battery, here are some safety tips to remember & follow:

After removing the battery, store it in a warm, well-ventilated area where you will be able to safely charge it (do not place your battery directly on a concrete floor). A stored battery can self-discharge internally, so a maintenance charge will be needed to maintain your battery during storage.

Note that the voltage of a fully charged battery will depend on the particular model battery you have. Fully charged voltages for different type batteries would be:

The type of charger you have/use will affect the charging time and method required to maintain a fully charged battery. The latest state of the art charger uses a pulse charge technology & monitors the battery's state of charge. Other acceptable charger technologies include the constant current type charger and the trickle charger.

The well-known Battery Tender charger is a constant current technology charger, monitors the battery's state of charge and varies the applied voltage in order to maintain a constant charge rate until the battery is fully charged, then switches to a float mode to keep the battery fully charged without overcharging.

A trickle charger is a low-tech, inexpensive charger that can also be used, but for no more than about 4 hours per day in order to prevent overcharging. This means if you use this type charger, you'll either have to manually switch it on/off or put it on a timer circuit to automate turning it on/off. Even so, you'll need to monitor your battery's voltage & fluid levels rigorously to prevent over/under charging.

Except for the maintenance free battery (which has no vent caps), the vent caps should be loosened before charging. Charging a battery produces hydrogen gas (the stuff that filled the Hindenburg) which is extremely flammable & lighter than air. That's why the storage area needs to be well-ventilated. A buildup of this gas in a confined space can become explosive.

Battery acids spills/clean-up can be handled by using a baking soda/water solution to neutralize the acid, the blow dry with air.

Done properly, your battery will come out of winter storage ready to put you back on the road with minimal additional work or expense.

Ride Safe. Ride Aware.

Ride while The Weather holds!

Words of Safety