FEW BATTERIES DIE A NATURAL DEATH…MOST ARE MURDERED
Although batteries are sold with variety of published life spans, the fact is most batteries demonstrate a useful life of as little as three to five years. There are several factors that contribute to the shortened usefulness of a battery including; number of discharges, depth of discharges, environmental conditions and lack of regular maintenance.
Battery performance is critical to your power systems, and we offer preventive maintenance specifically designed to minimize the risk of system downtime and provide you with a peace of mind.
Preventive maintenance maximizes up-time and extends battery life by eliminating problems before they happen. Whether a battery fails from defect or deterioration, the best time to find out is during a preventive maintenance service, not during a power failure when critical loads might be compromised.
MAINTENANCE OF BATTERIES
1) New batteries should be given a full charge before use.
2) New deep cycle batteries need to be cycled several times before reaching full capacity (50-125 cycles, depending on type). Capacity will be limited during this period
3) Battery cables should be intact, and the connectors kept tight at all times. Always use insulated tools to avoid shorting battery terminals. Regular inspection is recommended.
4) Vent caps should be correctly installed and tight during vehicle operation and better charging.
5) Batteries should be kept clean and free of dirt and corrosion at all times.
6) Batteries should always be watered after charging unless plates are exposed before charging. If exposed, plates should be covered by approximately 1/8″ of electrolyte (add distilled water only). Check electrolyte level after charge. The electrolyte level should be kept 1/4″ below the bottom of the fill well in the cell cover.
7) Water used to replenish batteries should be distilled or treated not to exceed 200 T.D.S. (Total Dissolved Solids…parts per million). Particular care should be taken to avoid metallic contamination (iron).
8) For best battery life, batteries should not be discharged below 80% of their rated capacity. Proper battery sizing will help avoid excessive discharge.
9) Battery chargers should be matched to fully charge batteries in an eight hour period. Defective and unmatched chargers will damage batteries or severely reduce their performance.
10) Avoid charging at temperatures above 120 degrees F or ambient, whichever is higher. Deep cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge performed after the normal charge cycle. This extra charge helps keep all cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be equalized once per month. Manually timed charger should have the charge time extended approximately 3 hours. Automatically controlled charger should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge.
11) In situations where multiple batteries are connected in series, parallel or series/parallel, replacement battery(s) should be of the same size, age and usage level as the companion batteries. Do not put a new battery into a pack which has 50 or more cycles. Either replace will all new or use a good used battery(s).
12) Periodic battery testing is an important preventative maintenance procedure. Hydrometer readings of each cell (fully charged) gives an indication of balance and true charge level. Imbalance could mean the need for equalizing; is often a sign of improper charging or a bad cell. Voltage checks (open circuit, charged and discharged) can locate a bad battery or weak battery. Load testing will pick out a bad battery when other methods fail. A weak battery will cause premature failure of companion batteries.
13) Always use a matched charger and battery pack system. Unmatched chargers will cause potential problems.
14) As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of the charge). Usually older batteries need to be watered more often…and their capacity decreases.
15) Lead acid batteries should be brought up to full charge at the earliest opportunity. Avoid continuously operating batteries in a partially charged condition. This will shorten their life and reduce their capacity.
16) Extreme temperatures can substantially affect battery performance and charging. Cold reduces battery capacity and retards charging. Heat increases water usage and can result in overcharging. Very high temperatures can cause “thermal run-away” which may lead to an explosion or fire. If extreme temperature is an unavoidable part of an application, consult a battery/charger specialist about ways to deal with the problem.
17) Inactivity can be extremely harmful to all lead acid batteries. If season use is anticipated, we recommended the following:
• Completely charge the battery before storing.
• Remove all electrical connections from the battery, including series/parallel connectors.
• Store the battery in as cool a place as possible. However, do not store in a location which will consistently be below 32 degrees F. Batteries will discharge when stored, the lower the temperature the lower the self discharge.
• When not in use, boost every two months.
LEAD-ACID BATTERY CHARGING
Battery low on power? You might not need a replacement just yet. These recommended charging procedures can help you keep your battery operating at full power.
Before charging your battery, refer to your owner’s manual and your battery charger manual for instructions. Review the safety instructions that came with your charger and battery. Remember that batteries contain sulfuric acid that can cause severe burns, and hydrogen-oxygen gases that can be explosive.
Observe the following guidelines when charging:
• Make sure the battery terminals are clean and free from corrosion.
• Do not attempt to charge a dried-out battery. If needed, add distilled (or drinking) water to just above the battery plates. Do not overfill.
• Refer to any written instructions provided by the battery and charger manufacturers.
• Identify the positive and negative terminals of the battery and attach the correct charger leads.
• If charging a battery connected to a vehicle, be sure that the vehicle’s electrical system has protection against overvoltage or be sure that the charger will not have high-charging voltages that may damage the vehicle’s electrical system.
The most important consideration when storing any battery is to make sure the voltage never drops below 12.4 volts. Following these simple tips on battery maintenance can help extend the life of your battery.
If you are storing the battery for an extended period of time, one of the best ways to prevent damage is to make sure the voltage never drops below 12.4 volts. We recommend using a type of “battery maintainer” – a device that will monitor your battery and keep it at full potential during storage. There are two types of maintenance chargers:
1) Traditional “float” chargers, which provide constant voltage with tapering amperage to the battery even when it is fully charged. The typical floating charging voltage ranges from 13.0 to 13.8 volts.
2) Fully automatic multistage or multistep chargers, which monitor the battery and charge it as necessary. Multistage maintainers will charge at varying voltages and varying amperage. Some of these multistep chargers are also capable of working well as a battery charger.
If it is not possible to use a maintenance charger, disconnect the battery from the vehicle during storage to prevent the vehicle from discharging the battery. Always provide a full charge with a battery charger prior to storage, then check the battery voltage every three to six months and charge if it falls below 12.4 volts. Also, when possible, store your battery in a cool, dry location.
OTHER MAINTENANCE TIPS
1) Check your battery every now and then to make sure its terminal connections are clean, snug and protected from the elements. Signs of corrosion or leakage could mean that your battery is no longer operating as well as it should.
2) Always unplug accessories and turn off lights when your car is turned off.
3) Keep the battery in cooler places whenever possible. Heat damages batteries.
4) Scrub corrosion from the terminals with a solution of water and baking soda.
We offer a Preventive Maintenance package that consists of the following features:
• Comprehensive maintenance for your V.R.L.A. or flooded batteries
• Measure of cell and string voltage levels
• Total battery terminal voltages
• Visual inspection for leaks or bad cells
• Spot checks for connection torques
• Inspection of Battery environment
• Testing of cell/unit internal ohmic values
• Environmental checks – ambient operating temperature
• Open Cell Vented batteries (with filling caps) will require periodic maintenance by checking and adding distilled water to the cells.
• Open circuit battery and UPS float voltages
• Inspection of the physical condition of batteries, terminals and connections
• Re-torquing the intercell connections
• Individual cell post & interconnector corrosion examination
• Assessing battery cabinet condition
• Equipment cleanliness
• Detailed written inspection report of battery test and inspection results and recommendations for corrective actions
‘A battery is like a piggy bank, if you keep taking out, and putting nothing back, you soon will have nothing.’