How to Find a Free Deep Cycle Battery

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Maybe you are looking for a set of deep cycle batteries to replace your old ones. Maybe you want to find a free deep cycle battery to try desulfating it so it is near new and then try to sell it. Some people are even getting a large deep cycle battery and removing all the good cells so they can sell them for renewable energy systems.

A home renewable energy system using wind or solar needs anywhere from 12 volts to 48 volts. Each cell from a deep cycle battery is about 2 volts, so it takes 6 cells for every 12 volt section. If you were to buy these cells new, then they cost between $300 – $600 each. A small 12 volt 650 amp hour battery setup would cost about $1,800 for the forklift battery cells. You could use golf cart batteries at about $80 each and 220 amp hours each. It would take 6 of them to do it and it would cost about $500.

Here is the kicker, though. A deep cycle battery cell from a fork lift battery lasts about 4 times as long as a golf cart battery. You could refurbish the cells out of the forklift battery and sell them for $100 each. They would easily last twice as long (or more) as the golf cart batteries and you could make a handsome profit for doing it.

My first pair of forklift batteries that I got for free happened to be Yuasa batteries, but all kinds are available. What I discovered is that usually most cells in the battery are still pretty good. Usually it is one or two bad cells. Most places just have their batteries picked up for recycling when the battery doesn’t make it though a 8 hour shift. These two batteries to the left had all good cells except 3 of them. There are 12 cells in each (these are 24 volt, 700 amphour), so that gives me 21 good cells.

So, if you’re selling these cells, you can make up to $2,100 profit. If you keep them for your own use (which is what I did), then you could make 3 banks of 12 volts at 600 amp hours each, or 12 volts at 1800 amp hours total. I say 600 amp hours instead of 700 because even after checking fluid levels and using my homemade desulfator, the amp hour capacity never gets up to brand new levels. But you can usually get 70% to 90% capacity, especially if you remove the bad cells. In the above example, you will use 18 of the cells total, leaving 3 good ones. You will probably have to just recycle those last 3 cells.

To get the batteries free, just call around to anyplace with a warehouse that uses forklifts. The first two in the picture above were picked up at the local post office main hub. You could just go through the yellow pages. Ask if they use electric forklifts, if so, do they plan on replacing their batteries in the near future. If you have a pickup truck, I would stick with the 12 or 24 volt ones. You can tell them that you can take them off their hands for free and that you will sign any environmental forms that they require.

There is another way to get forklift batteries but it costs a little money. Just look in the phone book and find the local forklift company. Almost all of them sell new batteries and deliver them as well. But they will also come and pickup old forklift batteries to recycle. They always have several sitting around. On Vancouver Island in Canada, the local company gets about 3 cents per pound from the local recycler. I can go to the forklift company and pick the best of the used ones and pay by the pound. A 24 volt like the one above weighs about 1,100 pounds or so. I can move those with a engine hoist and my V6 nissan pickup. Any bigger and you need other arrangements. They will also deliver the batteries to my home and plop them wherever I like. At 3 cents a pound, I could pay $66 for the two batteries in the above picture. Then they would charge about $70 per hour for the delivery. Let’s say, worse case, it cost 2 hours in labor, that is $206 for both batteries. If I sell individual cells in 12 volt groups, then I could sell 18 of them (3 cells were bad) and make $1,800. That gives me $1,600 profit. Not bad.

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