I'm a long-time SurvivalBlog reader.
There was a recent post about dry batteries and where to buy acid. I live in rural Ohio, in farm country. I have had no problem buying battery acid at a local auto parts chain store. I am always adding to [batteries for] tractors and combines, et cetera. Never thought of it being hard to get. Last time I bought it it came in a 6 quart container for around $30.
Keep up the great work. - Sheepman Dave
I frequently get questions regarding long term, reliable, battery backup systems. First some comments regarding Lead Acid batteries, and then a possible answer to long term backup batteries that can be stored dry almost indefinitely until they are needed.ry
There is at least one manufactured that that sells “Bone Dry” lead acid cells. DEKA sells their commercial line of wet cell batteries wet or dry. Look at their Commercial Line data sheet. The acid for batteries can be obtained from them, from Grainger Wholesale, or also through several hardware companies. Do a Google search for Battery acid. For the home chemists, 98% H2SO4 can be purchased from Biodiesel suppliers such as DUDA Diesel. (Mixing the correct acid gravity battery acid from concentrated acid requires the correct knowledge and procedure, or you will go to the hospital with severe acid burns – no fun, especially in a TEOTWAWKI situation).
The better alternative to Lead Acid batteries is to switch to Nickel Iron, aka "NiFe" batteries. These batteries were formally used in many industrial applications, and also to supply backup switching power to electrical substations. They have a rated lifespan of 25 years and longer with proper care. The only reason they fell into disuse is because they are not as efficient as Lead Acid or sealed NiCd cells and need regular watering with distilled water, unlike sealed lead acid batteries. NiFe efficiency usually runs around 80%, so you may have to add a few solar panels to make up for the inefficiency. (Simplified: You put in 100 watts, and only get 80 watts back). NiFe batteries, as the name implies, use electrodes of Nickel and Iron, and a caustic electrolyte (Usually Sodium or Potassium Hydroxide, with some Lithium Hydroxide added.) I have run across 30+ year old NiFe batteries in eastern Europe, that are still functioning almost like new.
The nice thing about NiFe batteries is that they are not sensitive to overcharge, freezing, neglect like not charging them, etc. The electrolyte is shipped in dry powder form, and only when the NiFe battery is needed, is the electrolyte prepared. This allows the cells to be stored almost indefinitely. Preparing the electrolyte only requires mixing the caustic powder with distilled water, in the proper proportions. The usual cautions for mixing caustic solutions apply, since the NiFe electrolyte is like a strong oven cleaner, and will cause severe burns if not properly handled, although it is [a bit] safer than battery acid.
One importer of Chinese NiFe batteries is Be Utility Free. There are also two others, Iron Edison, and ZappWorks. The ZappWorks web page states that their cells are manufactured in Dillon, Montana. [JWR Adds: Not only are they from a company in The American Redoubt, but they have a competitively low price, per Amp-Hour.] I don't know if these companies sell their cells wet or dry.
For more information and more vendor names, check out Nickel-iron-battery.com. Regards, - The Consultant