I am looking into getting inot battery power. I have been on sights such as batteryspace.com to look fro batteries. I have noticed that sealed lead acid batteries are very cheap for the amount of amperage they deliver. What are your thoughts on this type of battery? Pros? Cons?
They are cheap because they are an old technology. If you have plenty of room, they will work just fine, but NiCad and even better, NiMh batteries offer more power density than lead acid (more amps in much less space and weight).
Look at nicad or nickle metal hydride. Li-ion is more compact, but more expensive and more dangererous when overcharged.
Get a good charger.
Talk to the people who sell and or install the battery/rc system you are using.
Search the forums about feedback on which systems you want.
Do a lot of reading, and read the forums, a wealth of information. The really experienced people have posted on this subject a number of times, and don't usually want to re-post on the same question all the time. I read forums for several years before deciding on a control system.
The power density of lead-acid batteries isn't so great. There are two reasons they look like they have more available power:
1. They are a lot larger and heavier than comparable capacity NiCad and NiMH batteries. This is not very compatible with the limited space in a model engine, thus requiring a trail car to carry the batteries. IMHO, the requirement to have the same car behind the engine for all operations is really a drag. The prototypes are self-contained, and I demand that my models be the same.
2. A significant amount of the 'rated' A-H is not available because the voltage drops as they discharge. This means that the engine and any other electronics like an R/C system will stop working before the battery is at its nominal 50% discharge. Again, not good. Competing battery technologies will provide 'level' voltage until the batteries are near total discharge.
Neither of these two factors are very conducive to good model train installation and operation.
As the others said above, go to more modern technology like the NiCads or NiMH.
David, I've been using Gel Cells for years and still use them today for my heavy haul, bigger locomotives and long trains. They're mounted in a battery car with the AristoCraft Train Engineer as well as the Airwire decoder. The three applications I run are 2 12 volt 5 amp hour bricks connected in series to produce 24 volts. One 5 amp hour 12 volt cell and the third set up is a 12 volt 5 amp hour brick and a 4.5 amp hour 6 volt to make 18 volt.
Yes, they're heavy but they run my stuff great, they're inexpensive, easy to charge and I get the 6 volters free... /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif
I have to agree with Stan. There are so many sizes, shapes, and capacities of gel cell that it's hard to find one that won't fit our needs. I can fit gel cells in 75% of the tenders and nearly all diesels. These are available from Power Sonic at www.power-sonic.com I deal with a local company at batteries4everything.com All of these batteries are available as "UB" or universal batteries. They are less expensive that the brand name and just as good. There are also chargers available in both 12 and 24 volt and they are automatic. When people say they are heavy, yes they are but remember, in most tenders there is some weight that you remove and replace with the batteries. Especially in the diesels it's usually a trade off. Remember, wse have been using lead acid batteries in our cars for over 100 years! They can't be all that bad!
If you want to put batteries in your engines instead of a battery car, the gel-cells are probably not the answer. When I make a battery car, I use NiMH D cells. You get 10AH instead of 5AH with gel-cells.
I am not opposed to having a battery car. I plan to put them in an Amtrak boxcar, a container car and another boxcar for another freight train.
I was suprised to hear that they dont discharge at an even rate. I actually thought that sla batteries were known for giving an even discharge. What types of batteries have the most even discharge?
I think the SLA batteries wre the most unstable for voltage. NiCad and NiMH batteries voltages are flatter during discharg. I am not sure of the Li batteries although I suspect they are rather flat too.
I have been using the Aristo lithium batteries for about two years now. They have worked very well during that time. I get about four hours of run time from two batteries connected in parallel. Thay take about 3 hours to fully recharge.
Interesting news, Aristo is turning back the clock. They seem to be abandoning thier Li Ion batteries... they have been talking about their "new" Nickel Metal Hydride batteries for some time, and now Lewis has announced Nicads.
I'd buy more now if you use them. They have good shelf lives.
Maybe that bad batch of batteries left a bad taste. There were premature shutdown problems on some li-ion packs, and funny thing it was mostly showing up on the Aristo TE.
Makes me think of that saying in the movie: "Back! Back to the future!"....
I think it is called; " Cut your losses". Take a step backward to something that is a known entitty.I still want to try LiIon batteries, but I certainly won't be getting them from Aristo. Several MLS'rs report great results.
Actually, the design of the Aristo pack is/was very nice, it does have sophisticated circuitry in the pack that monitors for over voltage, over current, and actually monitors the voltage of each of the 6 cells individually. Technologically it has the features you want. Unfortunately, there was a production run where the control IC in the pack was defective, and would often shut the pack's output off under normal operating conditions.
I know that Lewis made good on all the packs that were returned. That must have hurt big time. I know someone who returned 100 packs... yes, one hundred.
Not abandoning the LI battery. The newest works great with the new circuit. They're just bringing out NIMH and NiCad in 12v packs for lower price alternatives. This gives them a nice range of price & capacity. Puts them more in my price range
I have been using the Aristo Li-Ion batteries since they came out (6 of them), still have 70 Nimh AA batteries if I need them.
Any issue I had with the Li-ion was promptly replaced with new ones.
Like the Aristo Li-Ion for size, weight and power output, charge time is 3 hours and you can leave on charger for ever as will cut off when fully charged.
Will wait and see new Aristo batteries, cost, life and issues before going there.
Seems to be issues with Aristo, first runs always need some fixing.
What type of charger are you using to get a 3 hour charge on the aristo batteries? I read on the aristo site that there charger was an over night charger and I would be interested to understand what other chargers work with the Aristo batteries.