What Causes a Battery Post to Melt?

May 19, 2023 5:52 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

What Causes a Battery Post to Melt?

Batteries are an essential component of many electronic devices, but they are often taken for granted until something goes wrong. One common problem that can occur with batteries is melting of the terminal posts. Battery post melting can be a dangerous situation, leading to damage to the battery or the device it is powering, or even causing fires or explosions. In this blog post, we will discuss what causes battery post melting and how to prevent it from happening.

What are battery posts?

Battery posts are the metal connectors on the top of a battery that allow it to be connected to a device or charger. They are typically made of lead or zinc, which are good conductors of electricity. The posts are usually coated with a layer of lead oxide (PbO2) or zinc oxide (ZnO) to reduce corrosion and improve conductivity.

What causes battery post melting?

Battery post melting can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:

1. Overheating: One of the most common causes of battery post melting is overheating. When a battery is charged or discharged too quickly, it can generate heat that is not properly dissipated. This can cause the battery posts to melt or even catch fire. Overcharging or short-circuiting a battery can also lead to overheating and post melting.

2. Corrosion: Battery posts can become corroded over time, which can cause them to break down and melt. This can happen when the battery is not properly maintained, or when it is exposed to moisture or other corrosive substances. Corrosion can also occur when the battery is stored for too long without use.

3. Loose Connections: If the battery posts are not properly tightened or secured, they can become loose and cause arcing. Arcing occurs when electricity jumps from one connection to another, creating sparks that can generate heat and melt the posts.

4. Manufacturing Defects: Sometimes, battery post melting occurs due to manufacturing defects. Poor quality materials or faulty construction can cause the posts to break down and melt prematurely.

How to prevent battery post melting?

Preventing battery post melting is essential to ensure the safety of both the battery and the device it powers. Here are some tips to help prevent battery post melting:

1. Avoid Overcharging: Overcharging a battery can cause it to overheat and melt the posts. Be sure to use the correct charger for your battery, and do not leave it charging for longer than necessary.

2. Use Quality Batteries: Low-quality batteries are more likely to experience post melting due to manufacturing defects or poor construction. Always use high-quality batteries from reputable manufacturers.

3. Proper Storage: When storing a battery, always keep it in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposing it to moisture, extreme temperatures, or other corrosive substances.

4. Tighten Connections: Be sure to tighten the battery posts securely to prevent arcing and melting. Use a wrench if necessary to ensure a tight connection.

5. Regular Maintenance: Regularly inspect your batteries for signs of corrosion or other damage. Clean the posts with a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any dirt or corrosion buildup.

6. Avoid Short-Circuiting: Short-circuiting a battery can cause it to overheat and melt. Be sure to avoid connecting the positive and negative terminals of a battery directly, and avoid using damaged or frayed wires.

Final Thoughts

Why did my battery melt a post when trying to start my equipment? Several reasons could be contributing to a burned post. First, look at the battery specific gravity to determine if it is full charge. The specific gravity should be 1,265 and have a voltage of 12.7 volts on a 12 volt battery. A discharged battery has lower voltage and when trying to start a piece of equipment must use more amperage from the battery to do the same job. If the temperature is below 70 degrees, the battery must work harder to do the same job also. Batteries are very temperature sensitive. In very cold climates a battery electric blanket or electric pad can keep the battery warm enough to continue to start when very cold temperatures exist.

Another detail to investigate is the cleanliness of the battery terminals. Dirty terminals dramatically increase heat when trying to pass electricity. Clean terminals should shine like a new nickel on both contacts of battery terminal and connector terminal. Use a good post cleaner or wire brush to clean them. Many terminals are copper with a tin plating to reduce corrosion. Do not clean so hard as to remove the tin plating though.

Is the cable too small to carry enough current? At 12 volts small cable creates a great resistance. A full charge battery with extra-long cables will lose some of the voltage to reach the intended need. Measure the voltage at the battery and go to the end of the cable and see how much voltage is lost. Copper, the main conductor in cabling is also the most expensive. Some times the builder may try to reduce cost by utilizing too small a cable. Do not be mislead on booster cables. Insulation is cheap, but sufficient copper starts the equipment easier.

In short, battery post melting can be a dangerous situation that can lead to damage to the battery or the device it powers, or even cause fires or explosions. It is important to understand the causes of battery post melting and take steps to prevent it from happening. By following the tips listed above, you can help ensure the safety and longevity of your batteries and the devices that depend on them.

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