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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Batteries, can you have too many amps?

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Tim B from MA

03-09-2006 16:28:06

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I bought a zero-turn mower needing a new battery. I can put a car or truck battery of nearly any physical size I want on it. The engine's manual recommends 300 to 400 cranking amps. I've been to three battery dealers and the lawn equipment batteries they have run from 245 to 270 CA. It would probably do fine for a mower (not a cold weather machine) but seems like too much money for too little battery.

Is there any reason I should not put a small car battery with, say 500 to 600 cranking amps?

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03-10-2006 05:54:26

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 You can have too much - it's rare though in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
Just about in all situations, bigger is better. You're not going to push more amps into a starter no matter what you do, but you WILL raise the voltage. There is a direct relationship between voltage and cranking-RPM. Most 12 volt systems use a starter-motor designed to operate at 9-10- volts, so what we call a 12 volt starter is designed to operate at 9-10. In just about all cases that I'm acquainted with, starters are overbuilt and work fine if overvolted. Especially 6 volt starters hooked to 12 volts. But . . . I have had a few occasisons where a 12 volt starter would self-destruct with too much battery. For example- I have a 1964 SS Chevelle with a high-compression 327 engine. Back in the late 70s, I found it almost impossible to get it started either when the engine was hot, or the weather was cold. I then found a place selling high-torque reworked Delco starters - so I bought one. It worked much better. Now, since I worked at a Deere dealership, we always had old-but-good batteries laying around that I got for nothing. One winter day, the temp. went down to -35 degrees F, and the car wouldn't start. So, I had the bright idea of putting in two huge tractor batteries in the trunk, hooked in parallel, along with 00 cables. Well, the starter spun amazingly fast. Also, it engaged very fast - almost to the point it sounded destructive. The next cold morning, I went out to start it - this time it was -20 F, and at first it spun pretty fast, then the starter-drive blew to pieces. This started a go-around with the company I got it from. Ends up, they told me to check cranking voltage. I did, it was 11 volts. They said it would not hold together at the higher voltage and warranty was voided. Afterwards, I tried several different types of heavy-duty starter drives, but they all failed - one way or the other. I finally gave up, and went back to one automotive-sized 700 CCA battery. I also stopped driving the car in the winter - which was a stupid thing to do anyway. I realize that today, there's much better stuff on the market. I can probably buy a Chinese or Japanese made high-torque, gear-reduction starter and use all the battery I want. My point here is not to start an argument - like I said, problems from oversized batteries are rare. But, it can happen, and with more battery you might lower the amperage, not increase it, but the voltage, engagement, and cranking speed will go up.

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Dwight - VA

03-11-2006 06:35:42

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 Re: You can have too much - it's rare though in reply to jdemaris, 03-10-2006 05:54:26  
"They said it would not hold together at the higher voltage and warranty was voided"

Seems odd they would not honor the warranty. If you had a 12 V starter on a 12 V system, it's none of their business how many batteries you had.

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03-11-2006 07:47:25

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 Re: You can have too much - it's rare though in reply to Dwight - VA, 03-11-2006 06:35:42  
I got thinking (I do that once in awhile). If you take a warranty from any new car, truck, or tractor, and read through all the small print - I think you'll find something that states - no modifications permitted or warranty void. This would include using a battery of a capacity not listed by the company. Granted, this is nit-picking, but some dealers do it. I worked for a Chevy dealer (in the 60s),and several Deere dealers, and I've seen the small print enforced on occasion. It was often based on who the boss liked, or didn't like.

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03-11-2006 07:31:02

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 Warranites are often useless in reply to Dwight - VA, 03-11-2006 06:35:42  
I guess anybody can write any warranty they want, and with many warranties, they not worth the paper they're printed on. I was just refused warranty from Advance Auto on a "Lifetime Warrantied" muffler. The manager looked at it, and told me it was rusted out, so therefore no warranty. ? ? ? Makes me wonder, what do they THINK does mufflers in, atomic rays? I also had a set of "lifetime warrantied" headers from Blackjack - warranty not honored. NAPA brake pads - warranty not honored. Heat exchanger on an Oneida hot-air oil furnace - exchanger warrantied from burn out forever - and mine burnt out after 5 years - warranty not honored. I guess the word "forever" means something different to them. In regard to the starter though, generally speaking, 12 volt starters ARE designed to operate at the 9-10 volt range, not 12 volts. In automotive or tractor use, it is pretty d*mn hard to get enough battery to surpass the 10 volt threshold, due to the high amp draw at cranking. My diesel Suburban has three 1000 CCA batteries and still only cranks at 10 volts in cold weather. A one volt increase, though, in cranking voltage results in a big difference in engagement speed and cranking RPM. I suspect with a lot of newer starters having gear-reduction instead of direct-drive, it's hard to hurt them. I changed over all my diesel trucks to gear-reduction starters, and they've been much better than the old direct-drive AC Delcos.

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03-10-2006 14:10:14

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 Re: You can have too much - it's rare though in reply to jdemaris, 03-10-2006 05:54:26  
Are you sure that you had those batteries hooked up in paralell? It sounds like they were hooked up in series!

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03-10-2006 15:49:28

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 Well . . . duh? in reply to Jerry/MT, 03-10-2006 14:10:14  
How do I answer that? I realize that expressing one's self in writing has it's limits, but I think I wrote clearly. Why does it "sound" to you like the batteries were hooked in series when I specifically mentioned they were in parallel.
I also wrote what the cranking voltage was, i.e. 11 volts with the two batteries, 9 volts with one.
A series connection would have resulted in a nominal (no load) voltage of over 24 volts, not 12 - and cranking would have been well over 20 volts, not 11. The guy that originally posted DID ask about the effects of a larger battery - and what I said is based on fact and well known electrical principles. And, just is case this still doesn't "sound" right - I'm well aware of what constitutes a series, parallel, or series-parallel connection - and in this case - positive is hooked to positive, and negative is hooked to negative, just like every diesel truck and tractor I own (with a 12 volt system).

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03-10-2006 06:49:17

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 Nicely put and thanks in reply to jdemaris, 03-10-2006 05:54:26  
Thanks for pointing out that new way to look at how motors work. No argument here.I now wish to do investigation on the indended voltages of starters and learn more.
11 volts too high a voltage?? Wow.
Thanks again for the info. I now have a new project to work on.

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03-09-2006 21:12:30

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
I agree with the others.. but not farmer in the dell... Get a big rough duty battery and smile. The extra amps will be nice no matter what. the rough duty will make it last. And even if your charge system was something rinky dinky like 5a,. it will eventually charge up the used power from that battery just like it would a small one.. all you have done is increase capacity.. charge voltage needed will be the same as any lead acid car battery..... 13.8-14.7

Also.. most auto batteries don't like being completely discharged.. so the comment about not using the battery and letting it cycle is a non issue... If you want to use lots of power and drain a battery before charging it.. get a deep cycle marine battery and a trolling motor then go fishing, and charge the discharged battery at the end of the day...


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Farmer in the Dells (WI)

03-09-2006 19:26:23

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
I could be wrong. (Its been known to happen) but the battery has to be able to be charged to full capacity from the available charging system. What this means is it will spin like crazy for the short run but as time goes on you won't be using the deep charge and the battery won't last as long. On the other hand, for $30 at Wal Mart, why not?

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03-09-2006 18:54:10

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
go BIG, you'll be happy you did

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03-09-2006 18:48:59

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
There is one small item. I think the lawn mower battery may be built to take more vibration and shock. Over a period of time the plates in the car battery may shake loose sooner, but that would not stop me from giving it a try if it fits. Depends on how smooth your mower is and how tough the car battery is built. Just a slight chance of a problem later!

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bil b va

03-09-2006 18:58:47

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to skipper, 03-09-2006 18:48:59  

he can buy a off road battery that will solve rough terrain problem .

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Lloyd Llama

03-09-2006 18:03:27

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
I always put the largest battery I can fit into the battery box. Extra sixe will not hurt, and may come in handy - like when we use our garden tractor for booster battery service. Larger battery will have more current if you leave accessories on accidentally, need more cranking because engine is playing hard to start, or difficult on cold weather, etc. Many stores used to have one price for all sizes in a life warranty group, no matter what the size of the battery. Never forget the look on the face of the clerk in Sears one time a few years back.... Went in and asked for the biggest battery they had. "Whacha you gonna put it in? Again I asked for the biggest battery they had, again: "Whacha gonna out it in?" Answered "Vega, now sell me the biggest battery you have." "Whatchya want is this: (pointing to a battery that looked like it belonged in a lawn tractor.)" "Nope, what I want looks like that, (Pointing to a battery that looked like it came out of a Linclon Continental)!" Well, he groused all the time he was writing up the sales slip and I was writing the check - Finally sez, "Well I want to see you put that in a Vega..." "OK," sez I, "Would you get the door for me?" I walked out, opened the hatchback, set the battery in back, closed the hatch, and drove off. Clerk was standing there with his jaw flapping. Actually took battery home and put it in another Vega, only modification I made was bending the lip of the battery tray down, so battery could overhang the end of the tray. Served me well in a car with more than one 2-way radios in it, some of which were in use when engine wasn't running. Think I had the last laugh!

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03-09-2006 18:11:36

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Lloyd Llama, 03-09-2006 18:03:27  
You have two Vegas???

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Had Two - Lloyd Llama

03-10-2006 10:40:30

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Bill(Wis), 03-09-2006 18:11:36  
Well, had two, both self destructed at about 90,000 miles. Fun to drive little cars, but not made worth a darn, was a race between the motor and the body to see which went first! If'n they'd held up, they'd been pretty good cars, but they used poor quality steel in the bodies, and those etched aluminum blocks were the pits!

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03-09-2006 17:30:37

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
It is the difference between pluging a table saw into an electrical system that has 150Kilowatts driven by a series 71 Detroit Diesel OR
plugging that same table saw into an electrical system that has 1500 Megawatts driven by 6 nuclear reactors.

The difference is nothing.
The saw motor will draw only how much as it is designed to.

Now there can be too little power of course.
Such as plugging the electric saw into a small 1000 watt inverter. The saw wont run thru that board with the knot in it.

A large battery will not harm anything except your pocket book a bit in the begining.

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03-09-2006 17:13:41

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
As long as it's the proper voltage, battery capacity won't hurt any thing. Your load will only draw what it takes to run the component. If your starter draws 60 amps at 12V then if you have 1000 CCA battery or a 1,000,000 CCA battery, your starter will still only draw 60 amps @ 12 volts. Having said that, the bigger battery might not fit under the hood or in the battery tray, but it certainly won't hurt the electrical components.

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Bus Driver

03-09-2006 16:55:30

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
With normal aging, lead-acid storage batteries suffer a decline in available amperage with the passing of time. When the available cranking amperage drops below that needed for the particular use, the battery is "shot". So if you start with the larger battery, chances are that it will be longer until replacement is necessary. The small batteries are not low cost either, probably due to low production volume.

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03-09-2006 16:54:15

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 Re: Batteries, can you have too many amps? in reply to Tim B from MA, 03-09-2006 16:28:06  
As long as it will fit it will work just fine. My take longer for the on board chargeing system you get it all the way up but thats about it

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