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Knowledge Base Archives

Can you use any 12v battery on a motorcycle?

Unfortunately not. At least not practically. There is no “one size fits all” battery for motorcycles and the motorcycle’s battery compartment has limited space.

However, it is easy to figure out what battery you should get for your motorcycle!

Motorcycle

Most motorcycles are going to use a 12 volt battery. There are some older, vintage models and dirt bikes that will use a 6 volt one, but modern bikes typically have 12V batteries. 12V motorcycle batteries are built to supply enough power to start the engine and operate all the modern electrical accessories.

The essential things to know are:

  • Dimensions (length, width, and height)
  • Cold cranking amps (CCA)
  • Amp hour capacity (Ah)
  • Terminal configuration (which terminals are positive and negative)

Your original battery might have some of these printed on the battery or a sticker.

Big Crank Motorcycle BatteryIf you have your original battery, you should measure it – length, width, and height. For replacing your motorcycle battery, the dimensions are important. Motorcycles have limited space to work with and manufacturers include the battery’s physical size in their designs. It’s important that your new battery can fit where it needs to be installed.

The cold cranking amps is another important specification to be looking at. It refers to how much power will flow in cold weather conditions to crank your engine. Larger engines typically require more power, so it’s simple to compare against your old battery. If you are replacing a 300 CCA battery, you’ll know you should be looking for a battery that’s close to that.

The battery’s capacity is also a specification to make note of. This measures how long the battery can supply power before it needs recharged. If your bike has electronics and accessories installed, power will be drawn when the alternator isn’t charging (when idle).

It’s not necessary to replace your battery with the most CCAs or Ahs possible. You might end up spending more money on a more expensive battery that won’t even use all the extra power. It’s a good idea to match what your original battery’s specifications.

The last thing to watch out for is the battery’s terminal configuration. You’ll want to be sure that if your original battery has the positive terminal on the right, the new battery also has it on the right. Otherwise, you might find your cables are too short to reach that extra distance across the battery to make their connections.

If you don’t have the original battery or the owner’s manual for your motorcycle, there are ways to get the correct battery for your bike. We have an online motorcycle batteries lookup to narrow down which battery you need. This is based on manufacturer recommendations and information, so you can be sure you’ll get the right battery for your needs.

How do I know when my rechargeable battery is at the end of its life?

You just charged your device, but it’s already running low. You used to get 6 hours out of a charge and now you’re only getting 90 minutes. These situations are common in our daily lives. However, before you discard those batteries, let’s learn how to check their condition.

There are two common indicators that your rechargeable batteries need replacing:

  1. The battery has been used extensively over a few years, and it’s lasting a fraction of the time that it used to.
  2. It’s taking significantly longer times to fully charge.

Rechargeable batteries are most commonly worn out by three things: number of charging cycles, heat, and age.

You should expect 500-1000 recharge cycles out of any given battery before you’ll see noticeable degradation. Once you’re hit this many cycles, you can reasonably assume that the battery is at the end of its life. And, rechargeable batteries work best when kept around 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius). Keep them out of direct sunlight when charging.

However, there are some indicators that might suggest the battery and the device might not have great contact.

  • The charge never completes or takes a much larger amount of time (2 to 3 times longer than the normal charging time).
  • When the battery drains quickly, but it’s only been used (recharged) a few times.

In these cases, the best course of action is to clean the battery terminals and the charger connectors. A microfiber cleaning cloth will work, and isoproyl rubbing alcohol is typically safe for cleaning electronics without leaving behind moisture and other residue.

It is worth noting, though, your phone’s battery is also affected by how you use your phone. Things like the apps you install, the stuff you collect, the number of ads you’re exposed to on websites, the number of notifications you received, whether you are using WiFi or data all effect how much strain is put on the phone’s battery. The more you ask your phone to do, naturally will cause it to deplete faster.

Can I mix old and new batteries?

Short answer: Don’t.

It can be tempting to only swap out only the battery that’s died, but you shouldn’t. It’s like trying to write an essay with your non-dominant hand: You might technically be able to do it, but you’re not going to like the end result.

So, replace all of the batteries at the same time. Using only fresh batteries together will maintain their lifespan and is much safer.

Remote with Batteries
See this remote with two different batteries? Don’t do this!

For example, your TV remote uses two AA batteries and is dying. You only have one fresh battery on hand. If you only replace one of the batteries, the good battery will not last. The new battery will have to work extra hard to meet the power demands of the remote, which will shorten it’s lifespan significantly.

Also, that dead battery still in the remote? It runs the risk of overheating as the fresh battery works. The reason for this is the fresh battery is delivering large current into a dead battery that has high resistance. This causes excessive heat to build up. This is explained by Joule’s law, the relationship between electrical power and thermal (heat) energy.

Two fresh batteries avoid this as they increase in resistance together as they deplete, limiting the current the batteries are supplying. Most batteries are designed to be safe under these conditions.

So, just replace both of them and save yourself some grief!

We recommend using batteries from the same brand, too, since there can be small differences in the voltage and capacity of the battery. AA alkaline batteries are rated at 1.5 volt, but this number is an estimate. Some manufacturers could round up from a number like 14.9 volt, and then another could round down from 15.2 volt. It’s a small difference, but this electrical imbalance could negatively affect performance.

Testing a Motorcycle System for Current Drain

Make sure your digital multimeter is set to DC AMPs which is “A” and “-” for VDC. Connect the black (negative) wire to the “com” (common ground) input and plug the red (positive) wire into the lowest amp input. If the current drawn is more than your multimeter low setting, move to the high setting.

Switch everything off on the bike such as the lights and radio. Turn the motorcycle off.

Disconnect the negative battery lead. Connect the negative multimeter Lead to the battery negative terminal. Make sure the negative lead you removed from the battery does not touch anything grounded, like the bike frame. Connect the positive lead from the multimeter to the negative lead you removed from the battery. You should now see current drain measured in amps.

The acceptable amount of off-key drain depends on the motorcycle’s onboard electronics and accessories. A factory service manual should list how much is permitted.

Start to unplug the fuses on your motorcycle. If the reading on the multimeter does not change, plug the fuse back in and move to the next one. If the current reading goes to zero or drops significantly on any, you have found what is creating the parasitic draw.

Look at your user manual to find out what is powered by the fuse that is causing the draw. The repair will be determined by what the issue is, but at least you now know what it is.

If a parasitic drain is identified, then leave the battery disconnected until the issue is fixed.

See our Multimeters & Battery Testers

NiCD, NiMH, & Memory Effect

What is the difference between Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NIMH) batteries? What is “Memory Effect?”


Both NiCad and NiMH batteries are rechargeable. The main difference between the two is the fact that NIMH batteries offer higher energy densities than NiCads. In other words, pound for pound, NIMH delivers approximately 30% more capacity than its NiCad counterpart. What this translates into is increased runtime from the battery with no additional bulk. NIMH also offers another major advantage: NiCad batteries tend to suffer from what is called a “memory effect”. What this means is that when a NiCad battery is only partially discharged before charging, the battery “forgets” that it has the capacity to further discharge all the way down.

To illustrate: If you, on a regular basis, fully charge your battery and then use only 40% of its capacity before the next recharge, eventually the battery will become unaware of its extra 60% capacity which has remained unused. Your battery will remain functional, but only at 40% of its original capacity.

The way to avoid the dreaded “memory effect” is to fully cycle your NiCad battery at least once a month. In other words, fully discharge your battery and then fully charge it.

Batteries can be discharged by allowing the device to run on the battery until it ceases to function. This will insure your battery remains healthy. NIMH batteries are “memory free” – they do not suffer from this affliction. Thus, if you have a NIMH battery, the only time it is necessary to cycle it is during its initial use and after a long storage period. This is done to “exercise” the battery and bring it up to full capacity.

How to treat corroded battery terminals

Corroded battery terminals can prevent your vehicle from starting. You could have so much corrosion around your battery connections that the resistance is stopping the current from getting through to start your vehicle.

Battery corrosion is caused by hydrogen gas being released through the battery vents from the acid inside the battery. This mixture builds up over time and is the white, green, or blue tinted corrosion we see on battery terminals or cables.

Most often the corrosion occurs on the negative battery terminal, which is a sign of undercharging the vehicle’s battery. This typically happens when the alternator does not have enough time to replenish the lost battery capacity. Battery corrosion on the positive terminal is normally from overcharging. If this is what you are seeing in your vehicle, it may be best to have your alternator checked for proper output.

Once corrosion occurs, if the buildup is not too severe, the terminals can be cleaned by using a battery cleaner with sandpaper or a wire brush to loosen up the corrosion and scrub it away. Before doing this, you should turn your vehicle off and disconnect the battery cables from the vehicle. For safety the negative cable should be disconnected first, and hooked up last. A solution of warm water and baking soda will neutralize any acid on top of the battery or in the vehicle tray.

Sometimes, a corroded battery cannot be sufficiently cleaned, and it is time for a replacement. When inspecting your battery, be sure to check the condition of the case itself. If it is leaking or swollen, it is time to replace the battery instead of cleaning the corroded terminals and cables.

The best way to fight corrosion is to prevent it from ever starting. You can use a spray battery protector which is meant to prevent corrosion build-up on battery terminals and cables. Always start with a cleaned-up connection and read the manufacturer’s directions before use.

How to safely jump start a battery with booster cables

  • Always wear proper eye protection.
  • Never lean over the battery.
  • Do not jump start a damaged battery. Inspect both batteries before connecting booster cables.
  • Be sure battery vent caps are tight and level (if applicable).
  • Make sure both vehicles are turned off before jump starting. Do not turn on the assisting vehicle at any time during the jump starting process.
  • Make certain that the vehicles are not touching and both ignition switches are turned to the “OFF” position:
  1. Connect the positive (+) booster cable to the positive (+) terminal of the discharged battery.
  2. Connect the other end of the positive (+) cable to the positive (+) terminal of the assisting battery.
  3. Connect the negative (-) cable to the negative (-) terminal of the assisting battery.
  4. Make a final connection of negative (-) cable to the engine block of the stalled vehicle, away from the battery.
  5. Start the stalled vehicle. Leave the assisting vehicle turned off.
  6. Remove the cables in reverse order of connections.

Series & Parallel Battery Connections

You’ve probably heard the terms “series” and “parallel” before. What do these terms mean and how do they influence what charger you need? When discussing batteries that are connected in either series or parallel, it is important to take into consideration the proper charger select that should be made when charging your battery.

Series Connection

To make a series connection between batteries, use a jumper wire between the negative of the first battery and the positive of the second battery. Run your positive wire off of the open connector from the first battery and your negative off of the open connector on your second battery.

In a series connection, the individual battery voltages are added together. When charging your battery, it is necessary to account for the total voltage of the string.

For example, if you have (2) 100 amp hour, 6 volt batteries connected in series, the total voltage is 12 volts and the amp hour capacity of the assembly is 100. In this situation, you would use a charger that satisfies both 12 volts and 100 amp hours. Electric golf carts often use 6V, 8V, or 12V batteries connected in series to produce a total of 36 or 48 volts.

Parallel Connection

A parallel connection is made by connecting the positives of all the batteries in the string down the line with a jumper wire, and then doing so with all the negatives. Then, connect the last positive and negative to the application.

Batteries connected in parallel increase the amp-hour capacity of the assembly, but not the voltage. A parallel battery system’s voltage is the same as the individual batteries, but it will increase the run-time for which it could power an item.

When charging batteries that are connected in parallel, it is crucial to take into account the increased amp-hour capacity when selecting your charger. A good example of a parallel connection is diesel pickup truck with (2) starting batteries connected in parallel to maintain 12 volts, but double the available starting amps and reserve capacity.


Whether it is the increase in voltage from a series connection or the increased amp-hour capacity from a parallel connection, understanding how these are different and the appropriate manner of charging your battery system is important in maximizing battery life and performance.

Can I let my battery sit on a concrete floor?

Will storing my car or motorcycle battery on a concrete floor ruin it?

This rule of thumb at one time used to ring true in the early days of automotive battery technology.

The earliest examples of automotive batteries were lead acid batteries that were composed of glass cells and encased in a wooden box. When these were left on the garage floor the moisture from the concrete would be absorbed by the wooden box causing it to swell or warp. This would cause the glass cells to move and eventually break leaving you with acid on the floor and a ruined battery – not good.

As technology evolved car batteries had changed, but the concrete issue still remained. Car batteries eventually progressed to being built using a hard rubber case. The problem was these cases were very porous, and as with the wooden cases they would absorb the moisture from the floor and allow current to flow between the cells discharging the battery.

But fear not! The batteries we find in our modern cars use cases that are made of hard plastics like polypropylene. These cases are able to block any moisture from coming through preventing the previously mentioned discharge issues.

We can finally put this age old myth to rest. Storing your car or motorcycle battery on a concrete floor will not ruin it. Keep in mind that a lead acid car battery will self-discharge if left sitting unmaintained over time. This, however, has nothing to do with where or what the battery is sitting on.

Hearing Aid Batteries: Answers to Common Questions

While there are rare instances that a hearing aid will use a rechargeable battery, the majority of them use one of the standard Button Cell Zinc-Air batteries. These batteries all operated at 1.35 Volts (sometimes rounded up to 1.4 Volts). Typically, one would differentiate between batteries with their size.

Here you can find answers to some of the most common questions. Hearing aid batteries are extremely valuable items, and hopefully the answers here will help you understand a little more about them.

How can I tell what battery size I need?

Some time ago, hearing aid batteries sizes were standardized and assigned with a color code system to help you remember your battery size. You can check this color on tabs found on the back of the battery. The packaging usually has the color code displayed on it, too. So, even if you can’t remember your size, you can keep the color in mind.

  • Yellow Tab = Size 10
  • Orange Tab = Size 13
  • Brown Tab = Size 312
  • Blue Tab = Size 675

How long do the batteries last?

Depends on your hearing aid. Some require more power, and will drain the battery faster. Digital hearing aids generally use up batteries faster than an analog one, due to the more complicated circuitry in the digital ones.

So, while it’s not definite, your battery life should range from 5 to 7 days. If you’re consistently experiencing shorter life, you should be safe and have your hearing aid checked out. There’s a chance that it may not be working properly. Your hearing health care professional should be able to help you out, and send in your hearing aid for repair if needed.

What happens when I take the tab off my battery?

Zinc air batteries work by mixing zinc with the outside air. When you pull the tab, the battery activates and continues to stay active. You can’t deactivate the battery, so don’t pull the tab if you’re not ready to use it! If you keep the tabs on your battery, you should expect a shelf life of about 3 years (when stored at room temperature). After three years, the batteries probably won’t perform as well as normal.

How should I dispose of hearing aid and zinc air batteries?

Easily: You can throw them away with your normal trash. You shouldn’t accumulate them, though, as this can lead to a fire risk.

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