Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Home made lead-acid batteries?

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    Down here in New Zealand, Deep Cycle Batteries are costly and of course have a limited life span. I’ve been thinking that as the early rechargeables were just a couple of lead plates in a glass jar with terminals sticking-up, why could not an off-gridder make his own deep cycle lead/acid cells from sheets of lead suspended in the acid (dilute sulphuric -25%?).-Polythene “jerrycans” with the tops removed would be fine containers for large lead plates that could be fixed to plastic pipe sections to hold them in place before resealing the containers for use. The filler cap would continue to serve as a top-up filler and ventcap.

    I know that one would need to be safety aware at all times when working with lead and with acid solutions.

    – Does anyone ‘out there’ think that this might work ? – I’d love to hear from you all.

    Marty K, “down south”


    i believe it could work and have been thinking about it myself not realy because of the cost but because i want something i will never have to replace

    and less maintainance dependent.

    i heard that old submarine batteries could be charged in reverse and this actually extended there lifespan.

    basically modern lead acid are made more efficiently IE thinner multiple plates

    for better crank amps and amp hour performance.

    but larger thicker plates with greater seperation should still work well if size and raw material cost are not an issue.

    there are some old do it yourself plans around popular mechanics publications

    put some plans out early last century which are still available if you look.

    id love to discuss and help with this idea because it is something i want to do

    but i dont think it will be a money saving idea unless you have a cheap source

    of large quantities of lead.but i do think i could make a battery to last 20 years maybee more


    Hi Chowan, – Thanks very much for your imput and suggestions. MY E-MAIL:

    You have realy confirmed my own first thinking about the possibilities .. I’ve looked for info on the technology involved, but so far have only found a PDF called “THE AUTOMOBILE STORAGE BATTERY ITS CARE AND REPAIR 1922 O.A.WHITE”, which is good(for a start!). If you can advise any other downloadable info I’d value it.

    – Agreed about possible cost savings – but maybe scrap lead might be the way to go as then one could CAST plates to the design worked-out to fit the container .. perhaps having the terminal & mounting holes cast-in.- A mould(s) might be made from good dry timber/plywood as I’ve done that before for diving weightbelt weights. MY E-MAIL Cheers,Marty k


    In this article I talk about making your own ceramic battery cases and making your own plates using a jewelers roller mill. This would give you 5″ wide plates.

    Commercial plates are made in waffle or screen like patterns to increase surface area. Would be difficult to do at home, if not impossible.

    I also talk about sources for acid. Actually it would easier to come up with a base using wood ash for nickle iron batteries.

    Recycling acid from used batteries might be a good option. Sulfuric acid might not be the only acid that one could use, I don’t know.

    Batteries in the early 1900s for home use came in square clear glass cases. Similar to the glass that coke bottles were made from.

    If using ceramics of course you would need some kind of glass like coating fired on it. This is typical for ceramics anyway.

    Whatever you do please takes some photo’s and share your discoveries with the rest of us.


    I’ve been thinking about this too. I think that it may well be worth it.

    Home made batteries probably always be larger in size to provide the same amount of power as a factory battery, but there are some serious advantages too.

    If a single cell in your DIY battery goes bad, you can just replace or repair that one cell (instead of the whole battery).

    If a plate goes bad, gets sulfated, or gets shorted by settling metal flakes… I think that it might be realistic to just remove all of the lead from that cell, melt it down, re-cast it, and just put it right back in (does anyone know what happens when you melt lead sulfate?)

    If it turns out that you can melt lead sulfate to recycle the lead… then your number 1 source of scrap lead would be old dead lead-acid batteries.


    When you melt lead sulfate you get even more toxic gas than when melting pure fresh lead.

    the sulfate is derived fromsulphuric acid. How many of you guys have ever been inside a battery factory? I have.

    I used to melt my own lead for casting bullets. I stopped doing that when I saw what it could do to my lungs. I used to buy my batteries from a small independent battery factory. The owner died prematurely from lung disease.


    Hi Guys, – Thanks all all the interest so far. I can’t find fault with anything you’re saying. Certainly melting and casting lead is potentially VERY DANGEROUS, combining the hazards of molten metals, with risk of explosion if any water makes contact with the melt – to the serious risks of ‘lead poisoning’ from the vapours. – However the whole process CAN be done safely if sensible precautions are maintained .. protective clothing, eyewear, and good ventilation, all followed by careful hand washing etc afterwards. It can be done .. I too am a shooter and have done projectile casting, and as a SCUBA diver I have cast lead weights for the weight belts.

    – And so far I’ve not restated the hazards of working with SULPHURIC ACID ! .. funny enough, one danger with the acid is from contact with water again, in both cases just a drop of sweat dropping into a container can cause explosion of the contents !

    – But, the topic continues to be a possible, as face it, someone somewhere is already doing it all for our benefit. Cheers, Martin K

    PS. I’ve found and bought a copy of THE BATTERY BUILDERS GUIDE by Phillip Hurley on the web, and am currently reading it – so far seems helpful. Martyk


    Hello Martin.

    I only read your thread now

    I would just like to point your attention to the Edison Battery.

    it is easy to make, safe, eco-friendly and lasts a lifetime with very little maintainence.

    I have not looked over this entire site and don’t know if it is mentioned here or not. Here is a good site to check it out.

    There are others, but, I’m sure you will find the info there useful.

    I have downloaded quite a bit of info on the subject, so, if you want I can email it to you.


    There is an Australian nickle iron battery manufacture. Although not any cheaper these will last many decades. No accurate life span data is available because none have died a natural dealth as yet. All existing batteries were removed from service while still functional.

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