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Sealed Lead Acid Battery Questions

Also known as SLA, VRLA (valve-regulated lead-acid battery), sealed lead acid batteries have many uses in todays
world. From modern motorcycles, ATVs, home alarm systems, toys, backup systems, workout equipment,
generators and the list goes on. These batteries come in all shapes, voltages, amperages and sizes. If you are
unfamiliar with SLA batteries, this article will help with any questions you may have. Also, it is recommended to
read if you are thinking about replacing your current sealed lead acid battery.
Do I Have to Use the Same Battery Manufacturer?
No, you may use other brands as long as the voltage and dimensions match your original battery. The difference in
capacity (Ah) should not damage your unit. Check your system manual for minimum and maximum power
requirements.
Can I Select an SLA With Different Capacity?
You may select a battery with a different capacity as long as it is within the same range. For example, if your
current battery is 4Ah you may select a battery that is rated at 4.5Ah or 5Ah. Note; the battery size may change
with a higher capacity. Always match your current voltage and dimensions to the replacement you select.
What is the Life of an SLA Battery?
The life of a sealed lead acid battery will depend upon a number of factors including application, operating
temperature and the charging method. In general an SLA can last between 300-500 cycles. Never store the battery
in a discharged or partially charged state. To extend the life of your battery, be sure to recharge your battery before
storage.
What is the shelf life of my Sealed Lead Acid battery?
All SLA batteries self-discharge. If the battery is not recharged periodically, its full capacity may not be recoverable.
Typically, SLA batteries self-discharge 3% every month. We recommend you check and recharge every three
months. SLA batteries should never be stored longer than six months without being recharged. Store the battery in
a dry, cool place. Ideal storage temperature is 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do I need to drain my Sealed Lead Acid battery to prevent memory effect?
No. SLA batteries do not suffer from memory effect. Draining your SLA battery may result in damaging it.
The Battery is Swollen, What Does That Mean?
Immediately remove the battery from the device. A battery becomes swollen as a result of overcharging. Excessive
current will flow into the battery after the battery has reached a full charge. The constant current will cause
decomposition of the water in the electrolyte and premature aging. At high rates of overcharge a battery will
progressively heat up. As it gets hotter it will accept more current, heating up even further. This is called thermal
runaway and it can destroy a battery in as little as a few hours. The heat will cause the battery to expand.
How to Connect a Battery in Series and Parallel?
You can connect your SLA battery in series or parallel. Connecting your SLA batteries in series will generate a
higher voltage. For example, connecting two 12 Volt batteries will give you an output of 24 Volts.
Connecting your batteries in parallel will increase the capacity (Ah). For more information, please refer to
Connecting Your SLA Batteries Together.
How Do I Charge the SLA Battery?
Some machines systematically charge the SLA battery, for example some home alarm or backup systems. Meaning,
you do not have to take the battery out and charge it on a battery tender.

If you do need to charge your SLA battery with a battery tender, selecting the correct battery charger will impact
the performance and service life of a sealed lead acid (SLA) battery. As a general rule of thumb when selecting a
charger for an SLA battery is to use one that is no more than 20% of the capacity rating of the battery (at a 20hr.
rate).
Example; to charge a 12 volt / 7.5Ah battery select a charger with a maximum charge output of 1.5 Amps (7.5 x
0.20 = 1.5).
What Terminal Do I Need?
Since SLA batteries are used in a variety of products, batteries are available in a variety of different terminal
configurations. Please refer to our battery terminal page for pictures and dimensions of the different terminals.
I Dropped the SLA Battery, What do I do?
Please use protective gear before handling the battery to avoid exposure to sulfuric acid. Use rubber or neoprene
gloves, safety glasses, acid resistant boots, apron and clothing. Neutralize any spilled electrolyte or exposed
battery parts with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate until fizzing stops. Place the broken battery in a heavy gauge
plastic bag or other non-metallic container. Recycle the battery immediately. Do not store old lead acid batteries,
especially lead acid batteries with a broken case.
How Do I Recycle My SLA Battery?
Visit our Battery Recycling page for more information on how to properly dispose of your sealed lead acid battery.
SLA, VLRA, AGM, Is There a Difference?
SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) and VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) are different acronyms for the same battery. This
battery type has the following characteristics: Maintenance-free, leak-proof, position insensitive. Batteries of this
kind have a safety vent to release gas in case of excessive internal pressure build up. AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)
refers to a specific type of SLA/VRLA where the electrolyte is absorbed into separators between the plates
consisting of sponge like fine glass fiber mats. SLA batteries are divided up into specific subsets of batteries.
AGM and Gel Cell Batteries Difference?
Both types of batteries are sealed, valve regulated batteries allowing them to be used in any position. The
difference lies in the way the electrolyte is immobilized. In case of AGM (absorbed glass mat), the newer of the two
technologies, the electrolyte is absorbed by the glass fiber separator who acts like a sponge. In a gel-type battery
the liquid electrolyte turns into a gel right after the battery is filled. Gel batteries use a different type of separators
which are not absorbent. Because of the design, gel cell batteries don't offer the same power capacity as do the
same physical size AGM battery. For example, an AGM battery that is 12V 100AH, whereas, for example, a gel cell
battery in the same size case would only be rated at 84AH.However, the Gel Cell excels in slow discharge rates and
slightly higher operating temperatures. The internal design is otherwise similar.
GEL vs. (AGM) Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
AGM (absorbed glass mat) is a specially designed glass mat made to wick the battery electrolyte between the
battery plates. AGM Batteries contain only enough liquid to keep the mat wet with the electrolyte and if the AGM
battery is broken no free liquid is available to leak out.
Gel Cell batteries contain a silica type gel in which the battery electrolyte is suspended. This thick paste-like
material allows electrons to flow between plates but will not leak in a gel battery if the case is broken.
More often than not, AGM batteries are mistakenly identified as Gel Cell Batteries. Both batteries have similar traits
such as being non-spillable, able to be mounted in any position, low self-discharge, safe for use in limited
ventilation areas, and may be transported via air or ground safely without special handling.
AGM Batteries are preferred when a large amount of amps may be required. In most cases, recharge can be
accomplished by using a good quality standard battery charger. The life expectancy (measured as cycle life or
years) remains excellent in most AGM batteries if they are not discharged more than 60% between recharges
and/or recharged fully every 3-6 months.

Gel Cell Batteries do not offer the same power capacity as do the same physical size AGM batteries. However, the
Gel Cell excels in slow discharge rates and slightly higher operating temperatures and with excellent deep cycle
capability. Gel Cell batteries are considered deep cycle batteries by virtue of their construction. One big issue with
Gel Cell batteries that must be addressed is the CHARGE PROFILE. Gel Cell batteries must be recharged correctly or
the battery will suffer premature failure. Please refer to the specification sheet for the max charging current limit.
Using Gel Cell chargers is highly recommended.
Battery Disposal Guide
If you are having a difficult time finding out what to do with used batteries and where you can take them to be
recycled or safely treated and disposed, then you should find a solution here on this page.
When it comes time to replace your batteries, make sure you are disposing of the old batteries properly so no laws
are broken. Check with your local solid waste management district (listed under County Government in your phone
book) for any outlets for household battery recycling. For disposal of small quantities of batteries, see if your local
hardware/auto parts store or battery retailer will accept them for recycling. Most large battery recycling agencies
and disposal companies are usually set up to serve industrial or municipal customers with bulk amounts of batteries
rather than individuals.

Battery Type

Alkaline
(maganese)

Button

Common
Name

Sizes

Usage
Examples

Disposal
Classificatio
n

AAA,
Coppertop, AA, C,
Alkaline
D, 6V,
9V

Flashlights,
calculators,
toys, clocks,
Nonsmoke alarms, Hazardous
remote
controls

Trash (normal municipal


waste). Exceptions: California,
which requires nonhouseholds to dispose of
these batteries in accordance
with the California Universal
Waste Rules. Also, Minnesota
(Hennepin County only)
requires these batteries be
disposed as a hazardous
waste

Alkaline,
Lithium,
Mercuric
Sizes
Oxide,
vary
Silver
Oxide, ZincAir

Watches,
hearing aids,
toys, greeting Hazardous
cards, and
Waste
remote
controls

Household Hazardous Waste


Collection Site

Flashlights,
calculators,
Classic,
toys, clocks,
Heavy
AAA, smoke alarms,
Duty,
Carbon Zinc
AA, C, remote
NonGeneral
(non-Mercury)
D, 6V, controls,
hazardous
Purpose, All
9V
transistor
Purpose,
radios, and
Power Cell
garage door
openers

Lithium

NickelCadmium
(Rechargeable
)

Proper Disposal

Lithium,
Sizes
Lithium Ion,
vary
Li-Ion

Laptops, cell
phones,
digital
Hazardous
cameras,
Waste
camcorders,
mp3 players

Either
unlabeled
or labeled
Ni-Cd

Camcorders,
power tools,
two-way
Hazardous
radios,
Waste
cordless
phones

Sizes
vary

Trash (normal municipal


waste). Exceptions: Californiarequires non-households to
dispose of these batteries in
accordance with the California
Universal Waste Rules.
Minnesota (Hennepin County
only)- requires these batteries
be disposed as a hazardous
waste

Recycle

Recycle or Household
Hazardous Waste Collection
Site

Either
Nickel Metal
unlabeled
Hydride
Sizes
or labeled
(Rechargeable
Vary
Ni-MH or Ni)
Hydride

Sealed Lead
Acid

Lead Acid
(Wet cell)

Mercury
Oxide

Silver Oxide

SLA, AGM

2V,
6V,
12V

Automobile 6V,
Battery
12V

Mercury
Oxide

Silver
Oxide

Camcorders,
power tools,
two-way
Nonradios,
hazardous
cordless
waste
phones, AA
rechargeable
batteries
UPS Back-Up
systems,
Hazardous
wheel chairs, Waste
ATVs, Jet Skis

Automobiles

Hazardous
Waste

Recycle or place in the trash


(normal municipal waste).
Exceptions: Californiarequires non-households to
dispose of these batteries in
accordance with the California
Universal Waste Rules.
Minnesota (Hennepin County
only); requires these batteries
be disposed as a hazardous
waste
Recycle
Recycle. Stores that sell car
batteries are required to
accept up to 5 car batteries
from 1 customer for no
charge.

Watches,
Mostly
hearing aids,
button.
Hazardous
toys, greeting
Sizes
Waste
cards, remote
vary
controls

Household Hazardous Waste


Collection Site

Watches,
Mostly
hearing aids,
button.
Hazardous
toys, greeting
Sizes
Waste
cards, remote
vary
controls

Consumers are covered by


the Household exemption
under RCRA which allows for
these batteries to be disposed
of into the municipal waste
stream. Non-Consumers must
dispose of these batteries in
full compliance with the
hazardous waste rules. These
batteries are also acceptable
for recycling by the
Rechargeable Battery
Recycling Corporation's
(RBRC) Battery Recycling
Program

Battery Basics: A Layman's Guide to Batteries


If you have done any research on how batteries work or what you should look for when selecting a battery, you are
probably buried in information, some of which is conflicting. At BatteryStuff, we aim to clear that up a bit.You have
most likely heard the term K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I am going to attempt to explain how lead acid batteries
work and what they need without burying you with a bunch of needless technical data. I have found that battery
data will vary somewhat from manufacturer to manufacturer, so I will do my best to boil that data down. This
means I may generalize a bit, while staying true to purpose.
The commercial use of the lead acid battery is over 100 years old. The same chemical principal that is being used
to store energy is basically the same as our Great Grandparents may have used.
If you can grasp the basics you will have fewer battery problems and will gain greater battery performance,
reliability, and longevity. I suggest you read the entire tutorial, however I have indexed all the information for a
quick read and easy reference.
A battery is like a piggy bank. If you keep taking out and putting nothing back you soon will have nothing. Present
day chassis battery power requirements are huge. Consider todays vehicle and all the electrical devices that must
be supplied. All these electronics require a source of reliable power, and poor battery condition can cause
expensive electronic component failure. Did you know that the average auto has 11 pounds of wire in the electrical

system? Look at RVs and boats with all the electrical gadgets that require power. It was not long ago when trailers
or motor homes had only a single 12-volt house battery. Today it is standard to have two or more house batteries
powering inverters up to 4000 watts.
Average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements have increased. Life span depends on usage; 6
months to 48 months, yet only 30% of all batteries actually reach the 48-month mark. You can extend your battery
life by hooking it up to a solar charger during the off months.
A Few Basics
The Lead Acid battery is made up of plates, lead, and lead oxide (various other elements are used to change
density, hardness, porosity, etc.) with a 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water solution. This solution is called electrolyte,
which causes a chemical reaction that produce electrons. When you test a battery with a hydrometer, you are
measuring the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte. If your reading is low, that means the chemistry that
makes electrons is lacking. So where did the sulfur go? It is resting on the battery plates and when you recharge the
battery, the sulfur returns to the electrolyte.
1.
2.

Safety
Battery types, Deep Cycle and Starting

3.

Wet Cell, Gel-Cell and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)

4.

CCA, CA, AH and RC; what's that all about?

5.

Battery Maintenance

6.

Battery Testing

7.

Selecting and Buying a New Battery

8.

Battery Life and Performance

9.

Battery Charging

10. Battery Do's


11. Battery Don'ts

1. We must think safety when we are working around and with batteries. Remove all jewelry. After all you don't
want to melt your watchband while you are wearing the watch. The hydrogen gas that batteries make when
charging is very explosive. We have seen several instances of batteries blowing up and drenching everything in
sulfuric acid. That is no fun, and would have been a good time to use those safety goggles that are hanging on the
wall. Heck, just break out your disco outfit. Polyester is not affected by Sulfuric Acid, but anything with cotton will
be eaten up. If you do not feel the need to make a fashion statement just wear junk clothes, after all Polyester is
still out of style. When doing electrical work on vehicles it is best to disconnect the ground cable. Just remember
you are messing with corrosive acid, explosive gases and 100's amps of electrical current.
2. Basically there are two types of lead acid batteries (along with 3 sub categories); The two main types are
Starting (cranking), and Deep Cycle (marine/golf cart). The starting battery (SLI starting lights ignition) is
designed to deliver quick bursts of energy (such as starting engines) and therefore has a greater plate count. The
plates are thinner and have somewhat different material composition. The deep cycle battery has less instant
energy, but greater long-term energy delivery. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates and can survive a number
of discharge cycles. Starting batteries should not be used for deep cycle applications because the thinner plates are
more prone to warping and pitting when discharged. The so-called Dual Purpose Battery is a compromise
between the two types of batteries, though it is better to be more specific if possible.
3. Wet Cell (flooded), Gel Cell, and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) are various versions of the lead acid battery.
The Wet cell comes in two styles; Serviceable and Maintenance free. Both are filled with electrolyte and are
basically the same. I prefer one that I can add water to and check the specific gravity of the electrolyte with a
hydrometer. The Gel Cell and the AGM batteries are specialty batteries that typically cost twice as much as a
premium wet cell. However they store very well and do not tend to sulfate or degrade as easily as wet cell. There is
little chance of a hydrogen gas explosion or corrosion when using these batteries; these are the safest lead acid
batteries you can use. Gel Cell and some AGM batteries may require a special charging rate. If you want the
best,most versatile type, consideration should be given to the AGM battery for applications such as Marine, RV,
Solar, Audio, Power Sports and Stand-By Power just to name a few. If you don't use or operate your equipment

daily, AGM batteries will hold their charge better that other types. If you must depend on top-notch battery
performance, spend the extra money. Gel Cell batteries still are being sold but AGM batteries are replacing them in
most applications. There is a some common confusion regarding AGM batteries because different manufactures call
them by different names; some of the more common names are "sealed regulated valve", "dry cell", "non spillable",
and "Valve Regulated Lead Acid" batteries. In most cases AGM batteries will give greater life span and greater cycle
life than a wet cell battery.
SPECIAL NOTE about Gel Batteries: It is very common for individuals to use the term GEL CELL when referring to
sealed, maintenance free batteries, much like one would use Kleenex when referring to facial tissue or "Xerox
machine" when referring to a copy machine. Be very careful when specifying a gel cell battery charger, many times
we are told by customer they are requiring a charger for a Gel Cell battery and in fact the battery is not a Gel Cell.
AGM: The Absorbed Glass Matt construction allows the electrolyte to be suspended in close proximity with the
plates active material. In theory, this enhances both the discharge and recharge efficiency. Common manufacturer
applications include high performance engine starting, power sports, deep cycle, solar and storage battery. The
larger AGM batteries we sell are typically good deep cycle batteries and they deliver their best life performance if
recharged before allowed to drop below the 50% discharge rate. The Scorpion motorcycle batteries we carry are a
nice upgrade from your stock flooded battery, and the Odyssey branded batteries are fantastic for holding their
static charge over long periods of non use. When Deep Cycle AGM batteries are discharged to a rate of no less than
60% the cycle life will be 300 plus cycles.
GEL: The Gel Cell is similar to the AGM style because the electrolyte is suspended, but different because technically
the AGM battery is still considered to be a wet cell. The electrolyte in a Gel Cell has a silica additive that causes it to
set up or stiffen. The recharge voltage on this type of cell is lower than the other styles of lead acid battery. This is
probably the most sensitive cell in terms of adverse reactions to over-voltage charging. Gel Batteries are best used
in VERY DEEP cycle application and may last a bit longer in hot weather applications. If the incorrect battery
charger is used on a Gel Cell battery poor performance and premature failure is certain.
4. CCA, CA, AH and RC. What are these all about? These are the standards that most battery companies use to
rate the output and capacity of a battery.
Cold cranking amps (CCA) is a measurement of the number of amps a battery can deliver at 0 F for 30 seconds
and not drop below 7.2 volts. So a high CCA battery rating is especially important in starting battery applications,
and in cold weather.This measurement is not particularly important in Deep cycle batteries, though it is the most
commonly 'known' battery measurement.
CA is cranking amps measured at 32 degrees F. This rating is also called marine cranking amps (MCA). Hot
cranking amps (HCA) is seldom used any longer but is measured at 80 F.
Reserve Capacity (RC) is a very important rating. This is the number of minutes a fully charged battery at 80 F
will discharge 25 amps until the battery drops below 10.5 volts.
An amp hour (AH) is a rating usually found on deep cycle batteries. The standard rating is an Amp rating taken for
20 Hours. What this means, say for a 100 AH rated battery is this: Draw from the battery for 20 hours and it will
provide a total of 100 amp-hours. That translates to about 5 amps an hour. 5 x 20 = 100. However, it's very
important to know that the total time of discharge and load applied is not a linear relationship. As your load
increases, your realized capacity decreases. This means if you discharged that same 100 AH battery by a 100 amp
load, it will not give you one hour of runtime. On the contrary, the perceived capacity of the battery will be that of
64 Amp Hours.
5.Battery Maintenance is an important issue. The battery should be cleaned using a baking soda and water
solution; a couple of table spoons to a pint of water. Cable connections need to be cleaned and tightened as battery
problems are often caused by dirty and loose connections. A serviceable battery needs to have the fluid level
checked. Use only mineral free water, Distilled is best as all impurities have been removed, and there is nothing left
that could contaminate your cells. Don't overfill battery cells especially in warmer weather because the natural fluid
expansion in hot weather can push excess electrolytes from the battery. To prevent corrosion of cables on top
post batteries use a small bead of silicone sealer at the base of the post and place a felt battery washer over it.
Coat the washer with high temperature grease or petroleum jelly (Vaseline), then place cable on the post and
tighten. Coat the exposed cable end with the grease. Most folks don't know that just the gases from the battery
condensing on metal parts cause most corrosion.
6.Battery Testing can be done in more than one way. The most accurate method is measurement of specific gravity
and battery voltage. To measure specific gravity buy a temperature compensating hydrometer, to measure voltage
use a digital D.C. Voltmeter. A quality load tester may be a good purchase if you need to test sealed batteries.
For any of these methods, you must first fully charge the battery and then remove the surface charge. If the battery
has been sitting at least several hours (I prefer at least 12 hours) you may begin testing. To remove surface charge

the battery must be discharged for several minutes. Using a headlight (high beam) will do the trick. After turning off
the light you are ready to test the battery.
State of
Charge

Specific
Gravity

100%

1.265

75%

1.225

50%

1.190

25%

1.155

Discharged

1.120

Voltag
e
12V 6V
12.
6.3
7
12.
6.2
4
12.
6.1
2
12.
6.0
0
11.
6.0
9

Load testing is yet another way of testing a battery. Load test removes amps from a battery much like starting an
engine would. A load tester can be purchased at most auto parts stores. Some battery companies label their
battery with the amp load for testing. This number is usually 1/2 of the CCA rating. For instance, a 500CCA battery
would load test at 250 amps for 15 seconds. A load test can only be performed if the battery is near or at full
charge.
The results of your testing should be as follows:
Hydrometer readings should not vary more than .05 differences between cells.
Digital Voltmeters should read as the voltage is shown in this document. The sealed AGM and Gel-Cell battery
voltage (full charged) will be slightly higher in the 12.8 to 12.9 ranges. If you have voltage readings in the 10.5
volts range on a charged battery, that typically indicates a shorted cell.
If you have a maintenance free wet cell, the only ways to test are voltmeter and load test. Any of the maintenance
free type batteries that have a built in hydrometer(black/green window) will tell you the condition of 1 cell of 6. You
may get a good reading from 1 cell but have a problem with other cells in the battery.
When in doubt about battery testing, call the battery manufacturer. Many batteries sold today have a toll free
number to call for help.
7. Selecting a Battery - When buying a new battery I suggest you purchase a battery with the greatest reserve
capacity or amp hour rating possible. Of course the physical size, cable hook up, and terminal type must be a
consideration. You may want to consider a Gel Cell or an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) rather than a Wet Cell if the
application is in a harsher environment or the battery is not going to receive regular maintenance and charging.
Be sure to purchase the correct type of battery for the job it must do. Remember that engine starting batteries and
deep cycle batteries are different. Freshness of a new battery is very important. The longer a battery sits and is
not re-charged the more damaging sulfation build up there may be on the plates. Most batteries have a date of
manufacture code on them. The month is indicated by a letter 'A' being January and a number '4' being 2004. C4
would tell us the battery was manufactured in March 2004. Remember the fresher the better. The letter "i" is not
used because it can be confused with #1.
Battery warranties are figured in the favor of battery manufactures. Let's say you buy a 60-month warranty
battery and it lives 41 months. The warranty is pro-rated so when taking the months used against the full retail
price of the battery you end up paying about the same money as if you purchased the battery at the sale price.
This makes the manufacturer happy. What makes me happy is to exceed the warranty. Let me assure you it can be
done.
8. Battery life and performance - Average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements have
increased. Two phrases I hear most often are "my battery won't take a charge, and my battery won't hold a
charge". Only 30% of batteries sold today reach the 48-month mark. In fact 80% of all battery failure is related to
sulfation build-up. This build up occurs when the sulfur molecules in the electrolyte (battery acid) become so deeply
discharged that they begin to coat the battery's lead plates. Before long the plates become so coated that the
battery dies. The causes of sulfation are numerous. Let me list some for you.

Batteries sit too long between charges. As little as 24 hours in hot weather and several days in cooler
weather.
Battery is stored without some type of energy input.

"Deep cycling" an engine starting battery. Remember these batteries can't stand deep discharge.

Undercharging of a battery to only 90% of capacity will allow sulfation of the battery using the 10% of
battery chemistry not reactivated by the incompleted charging cycle.

Heat of 100 plus F., increases internal discharge. As temperatures increase so does internal discharge. A
new fully charged battery left sitting 24 hours a day at 110 degrees F for 30 days would most likely not
start an engine.

Low electrolyte level - battery plates exposed to air will immediately sulfate.

Incorrect charging levels and settings. Most cheap battery chargers can do more harm than good. See the
section on battery charging.

Cold weather is also hard on the battery. The chemistry does not make the same amount of energy as a
warm battery. A deeply discharged battery can freeze solid in sub zero weather.

Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key off. More info on parasitic drain will follow in this
document.

There are ways to greatly increase battery life and performance. All the products we sell are targeted
to improve performance and battery life.
An example: Let's say you have "toys"; an ATV, classic car, antique car, boat, Harley, etc. You most likely don't
use these toys 365 days a year as you do your car. Many of these toys are seasonal so they are stored. What
happens to the batteries? Most batteries that supply energy to power our toys only last 2 seasons. You must keep
these batteries from sulfating or buy new ones. We sell products to prevent and reverse sulfation. The PulseTech
products are patented electronic devices that reverse and prevent sulfation. Also Battery Equaliser, a chemical
battery additive, has proven itself very effective in improving battery life and performance. Other devices such as
Solar Trickle Chargers are a great option for battery maintenance.
Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key off. Most vehicles have clocks, engine management
computers, alarm systems, etc. In the case of a boat you may have an automatic bilge pump, radio, GPS, etc. These
devices may all be operating without the engine running. You may have parasitic loads caused by a short in the
electrical system. If you are always having dead battery problems most likely the parasitic drain is excessive. The
constant low or dead battery caused by excessive parasitic energy drain will dramatically shorten battery life. If this
is a problem you are having, check out the Priority Start and Marine Priority Start to prevent dead batteries
before they happen. This special computer switch will turn off your engine start battery before all the starting
energy is drained. This technology will prevent you from deep cycling your starting battery.
9. Battery Charging - Remember you must put back the energy you use immediately. If you don't the battery
sulfates and that affects performance and longevity. The alternator is a battery charger. It works well if the battery
is not deeply discharged. The alternator tends to overcharge batteries that are very low and the overcharge can
damage batteries. In fact an engine starting battery on average has only about 10 deep cycles available when
recharged by an alternator. Batteries like to be charged in a certain way, especially when they have been deeply
discharged. This type of charging is called 3 step regulated charging. Please note that only special SMART BATTERY
CHARGERS using computer technology can perform 3 step charging techniques. You don't find these types of
chargers in parts stores and Wal-Marts. The first step is bulk charging where up to 80% of the battery energy
capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum voltage and current amp rating of the charger. When the
battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts this begins the absorption charge step. This is where the voltage is held at a
constant 14.4 volts and the current (amps) declines until the battery is 98% charged. Next comes the Float Step.
This is a regulated voltage of not more than 13.4 volts and usually less than 1 amp of current. This in time will bring
the battery to 100% charged or close to it. The float charge will not boil or heat batteries but will maintain the
batteries at 100% readiness and prevent cycling during long term inactivity. Some Gel Cell and AGM batteries may
require special settings or chargers.
10. Battery Do's

Think Safety First.

Do read entire tutorial

Do regular inspection and maintenance especially in hot weather.

Do recharge batteries immediately after discharge.

Do buy the highest RC reserve capacity or AH amp hour battery that will fit your configuration.

11. Battery Don'ts

Don't forget safety first.


Don't add new electrolyte (acid).

Don't use unregulated high output battery chargers to charge batteries.

Don't place your equipment and toys into storage without some type of device to keep the battery charged.

Don't disconnect battery cables while the engine is running (your battery acts as a filter).

Don't put off recharging batteries.

Don't add tap water as it may contain minerals that will contaminate the electrolyte.

Don't discharge a battery any deeper than you possibly have to.

Don't let a battery get hot to the touch and boil violently when charging.

Don't mix size and types of batteries.

There are many points and details I have not written about because I wanted to keep this as short and simple as
possible. Further information can be found at the links below. If you are aware of sites with good battery
maintenance information please let me know.
Battery Maintenance Facts
A battery is like a piggy bank, if you keep taking out, and putting nothing back, you soon will have
nothing.
Average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements have increased. Life span depends on usage; 6
months to 48 months, yet only 30% of all batteries actually reach the 48-month mark.
Basics
The lead acid battery is made up of plates, lead and lead oxide (various other elements are used to change density,
hardness, porosity, etc.) with a 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water solution. This solution is called electrolyte which
causes a chemical reaction that produce electrons. When you test a battery with a hydrometer you are measuring
the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte. If your reading is low, that means the chemistry that makes electrons
is lacking. So where did the sulfur go? It is stuck to the batteries positive plates and when you recharge the battery
the sulfur returns to the electrolyte.
Safety
Remove all jewelry from hands; wear safety goggles and plastic gloves. Work away from open flames and no
smoking, hydrogen gas that batteries make when charging is very explosive. Sulfuric Acid eats up cotton clothing,
but does not affect polyester or wool. When doing electrical work on vehicles it is best to disconnect the ground
cable. Just remember you are messing with corrosive acid, explosive gases and 100's amps of electrical current.
Battery Types, Deep Cycle and Starting

Basically there are two types of batteries, starting (cranking) and deep cycle (marine-golf cart-forklift). The starting
battery is designed to deliver quick bursts of energy (such as starting engines) and have a greater plate count. The
plates will also be thinner (more surface area) and have somewhat different material composition. The deep cycle
battery provides less instant energy but greater long-term energy delivery. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plate's
design and can survive a greater number of deeper discharge cycles. Starting batteries should not be used for deep
cycle applications. The so-called Dual Purpose Battery is only a compromise between the 2 types of batteries.
Wet Cell, Gel-Cell and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
Wet Cell (flooded), Gel Cell and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) these are various versions of the lead acid battery. The
wet cell comes in 2 ways, serviceable (removable vented caps) and maintenance free, both are filled with
electrolyte and I prefer one that I can add water and check the specific gravity of the electrolyte with a hydrometer.
The Gel-Cell and the AGM batteries are specialty batteries that typically cost twice as much as a premium wet cell.
However they store well and do not tend to sulfate quite as fast as wet cell. Most Gel-Cell and some AGM batteries
require special charging rate, especially the deep cycle models. I personally feel that careful consideration should
be given to the AGM battery technology. Gel-Cell batteries still are being sold but the AGM batteries are replacing
them in many cases. There is a little confusion about AGM batteries because different manufactures call them
different names; a couple popular ones are regulated valve and dry cell batteries. In most cases AGM batteries will
give a longer life span than a wet cell battery, but will not stand up as well to hot temperatures and high discharge
load.
CCA, CA, AH and RC What's That All About?
Well these are the standards that most battery companies use to rate the output and capacity of a battery.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is a measurement of the number of amps a battery can deliver at 0F for 30
seconds and not drop below 7.2 volts. So a high CCA battery rating is good especially in cold weather.
Cranking Amps (CA) measured at 32F. This rating is also called marine cranking amps (MCA). Hot cranking
amps (HCA) is seldom used any longer but is measured at 80F.

Reserve Capacity (RC) is a very important rating. This is the number of minutes a fully charged battery at
80F will discharge 25 amps until the battery drops below 10.5 volts.

An Amp Hour (AH) is a rating usually found on deep cycle batteries. If a battery is rated at 100 amp hours it
should deliver 5 amps for 20 hours, 20 amps for 5 hours, etc.

Battery Maintenance
Battery Maintenance is an important issue. The battery should be clean. Cable connection needs to be clean and
tightened. Many battery problems are caused by dirty and loose connections. Serviceable battery needs to have
the fluid level checked regularly and only at a full charge. The fluid level will always be higher at a full charge.
Distilled water is best; tap water is loaded with chemicals and minerals that are harmful to your battery, but not as
bad as no water. Don't overfill battery cells especially in warmer weather. The natural fluid expansion in hot
weather will push excess electrolytes from the battery. To prevent corrosion of cables on top post batteries, use a
small bead of silicon sealer at the base of the post and place a felt battery washer over it. Coat the washer with
high temperature grease or petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Then place cable on post and tighten, coat the exposed
cable end with the grease. Most folks don't know that just the gases from the battery condensing on metal parts
cause most corrosion.
Battery Testing
To measure specific gravity buy a temperature compensating hydrometer at an auto parts store. To measure
voltage, use a digital D.C. Voltmeter.
You must first have the battery fully charged. The surface charge must be removed before testing. If the battery
has been setting at least 6 hours you may begin testing. To remove surface charge the battery must experience a
load of 20 amps for 3 plus minutes. Turning on the headlights (high beam) will do the trick. After turning off the
lights you are ready to test the battery.
State of Charge
100%
75%
50%

Specific Gravity
1.265
1.225
1.190

Voltage - 12V
12.7
12.4
12.2

Voltage - 6V
6.3
6.2
6.1

25%
Discharged

1.155
1.120

12.0
11.90

6.0
6.0

* Sulfation of Batteries starts when specific gravity falls below 1.225 or voltage measures less than
12.4 (12v Battery) or 6.2 (6 volt battery). Sulfation hardens the battery plates reducing and eventually
destroying the ability of the battery to generate Volts and Amps.
Load testing is yet another way of testing a battery. Load test removes amps from a battery much like starting an
engine would. A load tester can be purchased at most auto parts stores. Some battery companies label their
battery with the amp load for testing. This number is usually 1/2 of the CCA rating. For instance, a 500CCA battery
would load test at 250 amps for 15 seconds. A load test can only be performed if the battery is near or at full
charge.
The results of your testing should be as follows.

Hydrometer readings should not vary more than .05 difference between cells in a strong healthy battery.
Digital Voltmeters should read as the voltage is shown in this document. The sealed AGM and Gel-Cell
battery voltage (full charged) will be slightly higher in the 12.8 to 12.9 ranges. If you have voltage readings
in the 10.5 volts range on a charged battery, which indicates a shorted cell.

When in doubt about battery testing, call the battery manufacturer. Many batteries sold today have a toll free
number to call for help.
Selecting and Buying a New Battery
Selecting a Battery, when buying a new battery I suggest you purchase a battery with the greatest reserve capacity
or amp hour rating possible. Of course the physical size, cable hook up and terminal type must be a consideration.
You may want to consider a Gel-Cell or an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) rather than a Wet Cell; if the battery is not or
can not receive regular maintenance, as it should. This is a hard call, because there is very little that substitutes for
maintenance.
Be sure to purchase the correct type of battery for the job it must do. Remember an engine starting battery and
deep cycle batteries are different. Freshness of a new battery is very important. The longer a battery sits and is not
re-charged the more damaging sulfation build up on the plates. Most batteries have a date of manufacture code on
them. The month is indicated by a letter 'A' being January and a number '4' being 2004. C4 would tell us the battery
was manufactured in March 2004. Remember the fresher the better. The letter "i" is not used because it can be
confused with #1.
Battery Life and Performance
Battery life and performance, average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements increase. Two
phrases heard most often are "my battery won't take a charge and my battery won't hold a charge". Only 30% of
batteries sold today reach the 48-month mark. In fact 80% of all battery failure is related to sulfation build-up. This
build up occurs when the sulfur molecules in the electrolyte (battery acid) becomes so deeply discharged that they
begin to coat the batteries lead plates. Before long the plates become so coated the battery dies. The causes of
sulfation are numerous, let me list some for you.
Batteries sit too long between charges. As little as 24 hours in hot weather and several days in cooler
weather.
Battery storage, leaving a battery sit without some type of energy input.

Deep cycling engine start battery, remember these batteries can't stand deep discharge.

Undercharging of battery, to charge a battery let's say 90% of capacity will allow sulfation of battery using
the 10% of battery chemistry not reactivated by the incomplete charging cycle.

Heat of 100+F, increases internal discharge. As temperatures increase so does internal discharge. A new
fully charged battery left sitting 24 hours a day at 110 degrees F for 30 days would most likely not start an
engine.

Low electrolyte level, battery plates exposed to air will immediately sulfate.

Incorrect charging levels and settings. Most cheap battery chargers can do more damage than help.

Cold weather is hard on the battery the chemistry does not make the same amount of energy as a warm
battery. A deeply discharged battery can freeze solid in sub zero weather.

Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key off.

Battery Charging
Battery charging, remember you must put back the energy you use immediately, if you don't the battery sulfates
and that affects performance and longevity. The alternator is a battery charger; it works well if the battery is not
deeply discharged. The alternator tends to overcharge batteries that are very low and the overcharge can damage
batteries. In fact an engine starting battery on average has only about 10 deep cycles available when recharged by
an alternator. Batteries like to be charged in a certain way, especially when they have been deeply discharged. This
type of charging is called 3 step regulated charging. Please note that only special SMART CHARGERS using
computer technology can perform 3 steps charging techniques. You don't find these types of chargers in parts
stores and Wal-Marts. The first step is bulk charging where up to 80% of the battery energy capacity is replaced by
the charger at the maximum voltage and current amp rating of the charger. When the battery voltage reaches 14.4
volts this begins the absorption charge step. This is where the voltage is held at a constant 14.4 volts and the
current (amps) decline until the battery is 98% charged. Next comes the Float Step, this is a regulated voltage of
not more than 13.4 volts and usually less than 1 amp of current. This in time will bring the battery to 100% charged
or close to it. The float charge will not boil or heat batteries but will maintain the batteries at 100% readiness and
prevent cycling during long term inactivity. Some AGM batteries may require special settings or chargers.
Battery Do's

Think Safety First.


Do regular inspection and maintenance especially in hot weather.

Do recharge batteries immediately after discharge.

Do buy the highest RC reserve capacity or AH amp hour battery that will fit your configuration.

Battery Don'ts

Don't add new electrolyte (acid).


Don't use unregulated high output battery charger to charge batteries.

Don't disconnect battery cables while engine is running your battery acts as a filter.

Don't put off recharging batteries.

Don't add tap water as it may contain minerals that will contaminate the electrolyte.

Don't discharge a battery any deeper than you possibly have to.

Don't let a battery get hot to the touch and boil violently when charging.

Don't mix size and types of batteries

General Difference Between Gel and Wet Batteries


We are frequently asked "What are the differences between sealed or gel batteries and the more conventional wet,
lead acid batteries.
Below are some general differences for the consumer to consider.
GEL

WET

Requires stabilized, regulated charging system

Conventional charging system OK

1.5 to 2.3 more expensive $

Less expensive $

Maintenance free, may operate in any position

Requires maintenance (water) upright operation


only

May be shipped UPS FFA approved with restrictions

Shipped common carrier only Cannot use for air


travel

Float charging voltage 13.5 to 13.8

Float charging voltage 13.0 to 13.5

Cycle charging voltage 14.4 to 14.8

Cycle charging voltage 14.5 to 15.0

Does not deliver high CCA; better suited for long


duration discharges

Delivers high CCA and can deliver long duration


discharges

Lower capacities given dimensions

Better capacities given dimensions

Slightly less AH per pound than wet

Excellent AH per pound

Less ability to dissipate heat

Excellent ability to dissipate heat

Less readily available for warranty

More readily available for warranty

General Battery Care Procedures


Never let the electrolyte level of a wet battery fall below the plates. Lack of maintaining the electrolyte in a
wet battery causes damage (sulfation) to the exposed portion of the plate which reduces capacity.

Never store a battery in a discharged state. The sulfate that forms during discharge should not be ignored
for an extended time period because severe sulfation will take place sometimes, making the battery
impossible to recharge fully. Sulfation starts at voltages less than 12.4(6.2) and at specific gravity less than
1.225.

Always fill your serviceable, wet batteries with water (preferably distilled)...after they have been charged
(provided the plates are covered). If the electrolyte level is at least above the plates, do not fill the battery
until after recharge. The electrolyte expands during charging and if you fill them before recharging, the
electrolyte will possibly bubble out of the battery. The plates must be covered with electrolyte for recharge
but be careful not to overfill.

Don't use battery strap that locks onto the battery posts for transporting battery. This type of device can
physically damage the battery's internal connections.

Don't hammer battery cable clamps down on battery posts. This damages internal parts of the battery.

Don't add acid to a battery low on electrolyte solution. This increases the % acid above acceptable limits
and causes pre-mature failure. Add only distilled water.

Don't use a fast charger that increases voltage across the battery terminals above 16 volts, especially when
connected to the electrical system of the vehicle. A fast charger can damage sensitive electronic
components.

Don't disconnect a battery cable while engine is running. This causes the charging voltage to rise since the
voltage regulator loses its reference and cannot regulate the charging voltage. The higher voltage and
voltage spikes can damage electronic components.

Always allow batteries to 'cool off' after charging. The cooling time is very important because heat is
generated during the recharge and discharge cycles. Without the cooling time the heat grows, accelerating
grid corrosion which is one of the major causes of battery failure.

Never charge a wet battery with a sealed (gel cell) battery charger. The wet battery needs the higher
voltages to finish the charge and without it the batteries never come back to 100% and sulfation can occur.

Never charge a sealed (gel cell) battery with a wet battery charger. The higher voltages (above 14.8 volts)
that a wet battery charger generates cause excessive gassing too fast for the sealed battery to recombine,
causing dry-out and battery failure.

Always keep the tops and terminals of batteries clean and free of corrosion. The film on top of the battery
can cause the current to migrate between the posts, accelerating self-discharge.

A fully charged battery will give you the best and longest service. Be sure the batteries are fully charged
before testing or using in your vehicles. Even a perfectly new battery that is discharged only will fail load
testing. Various states of charge of a battery, without a drain or load, after the surface charge has
dissipated, are:
12.66
12.54
12.45
12.39
12.27
12.18
11.97
11.76

volts
volts
volts
volts
volts
volts
volts
volts

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

100% charged
90% charged
80% charged
75% charged
60 % charged
50 % charged
25 % charged
completely discharged

In situations where multiple batteries are connected in parallel, series or series1parallel, a replacement
battery(s) should be of the same size, age and usage level as the companion.

As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. Generally their specific gravity is higher. Gassing
voltage goes up. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of
charge). Usually, older batteries need to be watered more often. And, their capacity decreases.

Inactivity can be harmful to batteries. If they sit for several months, a 'boost' charge should be given; more
frequently in warm climate (about once a month) than in cold (every 2-3 months). This is because batteries
discharge faster at higher temperatures than at colder temperatures.

Monitoring either stabilized open circuit voltage or specific gravity will tell you when to charge and how
much to charge batteries that are being stored. Battery voltage should not be allowed to drop below 12.4
for 12-volt batteries or 6.2 for 6-volt batteries. Specific gravity should not be allowed to drop below 1.225.

General deep cycle battery care procedures


Cycle the battery lightly (20% or less depth of discharge) the first few cycles. This helps complete the
forming process of the plates (in case they are not completely finished forming).
Always allow batteries to "cool off" after charging. The cooling time is very important because heat is
generated during the recharge and discharge cycles. Without the cooling time the heat grows, accelerating
grid corrosion, which is one of the major causes of battery failure.

Opportunity charging (quick charging between uses) is detrimental to battery life. While it is true that the
shallower the cycle, the more cycles the battery can deliver, opportunity charging is not good because the
cooling time is eliminated, shortening life. (I.e. One charge cycle per day is preferable.)

Never charge a wet battery with a sealed (gel cell) battery charger.The wet battery needs the higher
voltages to finish the charge and without it the batteries never come back to 100% and sulfation can occur.

Never charge a sealed (gel cell) battery with a wet battery charger. The higher voltages (above 14.8 volts)
that a wet battery charger generates causes excessive gassing too fast for the sealed battery to recombine,
causing dry-out and battery failure.

Never let the electrolyte level of a wet battery fall below the plates. Lack of maintaining the electrolyte in a
wet battery causes damage (sulfation) to the exposed portion of the plate that reduces capacity.

Never store a battery in a discharged state. The sulfate that forms during discharge should not be ignored
for an extended time period because severe sulfation will take place sometimes, making the battery
impossible to recharge fully.

Always fill your serviceable, wet batteries with water (preferably distilled) after they have been charged). If
the electrolyte level is at least above the plates, do not fill the battery until after recharge. The electrolyte
expands during charging and if you fill them before recharging, the electrolyte will possibly bubble out of
the battery. The plates must be covered with electrolyte for recharge but be careful not to overfill.

Always keep the tops and terminals of batteries clean and free of corrosion. The film on top of the battery
can cause the current to migrate between the posts, accelerating self-discharge.

A fully charged battery will give you the best and longest service. Be sure the batteries are fully charged
before testing or using your R..Vs. A fully charged battery, without a drain or load, after the surface charge
has dissipated, is 12.63 volts for a 12 volt battery. Other states of charge are: 12.60 volts = 93% charged
12.55 volts = 89% charged 12.50 volts = 85% charged 12.45 volts = 80 % charged 12.18 volts = 50 %
charged.

An overly discharged battery may need to be cycled a few times before it can recover fully. If a battery
begins to heat before coming up to a full state of charge, it may be necessary to discharge the battery and
recharge it a few times. This charge and discharge cycle may help the current acceptance of the battery
and facilitate its recovery to a usable condition.

In situations where multiple batteries are connected in parallel, series or series/parallel, a replacement
battery(s) should be of the same size, age and usage level as the companion batteries. Do not put a new
battery in a pack that has 50 or more cycles. Either replace with all new or use a good used battery(s).

Deepcycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge
performed after the normal charge cycle. It helps keeps cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be
equalized once per week. Manually timed chargers should have the charge time extended about 3 hours.
Automatically controlled chargers should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge cycle.

As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. Generally their specific gravity is higher. Gassing
voltage goes up. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of
charge). Usually, older batteries need to be watered more often. And, their capacity decreases.

Inactivity can be harmful to deep cycle batteries. If they sit for several months, a "boost" charge should be
given; more frequently in warm climate (about once a month) than in cold (every 2-3 months). This is
because batteries discharge faster at higher temperatures than at colder temperatures.

Reasons Why Batteries Fail


Physical Condition: Sediment accumulates under the plates and can short out a cell. Plate separators fail to
insulate the positive and negative plates in a cell and the cell becomes shorted, ruining the battery.
Insufficient Electrolyte: Allows top exposed portion of plates to sulfate rapidly. This reduces the battery's ability
to accept recharge. Accelerated erosion of lower portions of plates in a higher than normal acid content electrolyte
may also occur when the electrolyte solution is low. The battery also has a higher internal resistance when low on
water. High resistance means heat which mean shorter battery life.
Sulfation: When a battery is allowed to remain discharged too long the accumulated lead sulfate on the plates
hardens. The sulfate from the plate is not able to reconstitute the electrolyte to the higher specific gravity, or to
restore the plate material to a more active composition.

Overheating: A battery operated when the electrolyte temperature reaches 125 F, increases chemical action. This
increases corrosion of the plates and reduces battery life. When overheated, the battery plates tend to buckle and
destroy the structural integrity of the battery.
Freezing: When the electrolyte freezes, the ice formed will dislodge active material from the plates. Battery case
may crack and electrolyte will leak out when thawed.
Corrosion: Corrosion from spilled or splashed electrolyte forms deposits that can conduct electricity and cause
battery drain. Clean off all corrosion. Prevent its accumulation by coating terminals and exposed metal cable
connectors with high temperature grease.
Vibration: Vibration from an improperly installed battery shakes off active material from the positive plate and
reduces battery life. When installing a battery, always insure the battery is securely fastened down.
Overcharging: Overcharging rapidly converts water to gas and decreases the electrolyte water content. The
electrolyte level drops, and becomes more acid in content. This subjects the plates to a higher concentration of acid
and results in some plate area not being covered with electrolyte. Prolonged overcharging generates excessive heat
inside the battery which buckles the plates and destroys the battery. About 58% of battery failures are caused by
overcharging.
State of Charge and Sulfation
To ensure proper testing of batteries and to avoid premature battery replacement, the consumer should be aware of
some critical information based upon the "state of charge". Nationally, between 30% to 50% of all batteries picked
up as "junk" batteries are actually good, useable batteries (taken from Battery Council International source). There
are many reasons for this alarming statistic but as a consumer, if you know some "rules" about battery testing and
battery state of charge, youll be informed and will avoid the pitfalls that many fall unto.
Below is a very important table which compares battery "state of charge", "specific gravity" and "voltage". The line
passing through the "75%", "1.225", and "12.40" represents important information for the consumer. If your battery
has a measured specific gravity of less than 1.225 and a voltage less than 12.4, it usually will fail the prescribed
"load test" that battery specialists use as their most important diagnostic test. As a consumer, if the battery does
not have a "dead cell", you should insist that it be charged to a level above 1.225 specific gravity (where it can be
measured) and then tested before purchasing a new battery. We recommend that you focus on specific gravity (for
serviceable batteries) as this measurement provides a more accurate reading of state of charge than open circuit
voltage. Accurate voltage readings require that the battery sit up to 2 hours before measurements can be made.
Why buy a new battery just to simply replace a discharged one?
For those of you who store your batteries or let them sit without use, be aware that a process called "sulfation"
occurs if the batterys specific gravity falls below 1.225 or below 12.4 volts. Sulfation is actually a hardening of the
batterys internal plates which need to remain soft and porous so that acid can flow through them. If the flow of
acid is reduced, the battery performance is greatly reduced regardless of how much you attempt to charge the
battery. Monitoring your batteries for these parameters, particularly specific gravity as it changes less rapidly than
voltage, will ensure you get maximum life from them.

STATE OF
CHARGE

V
S

SPECIFIC
GRAVITY

V
S

VOLTAG
E

100%

1.265

12.62(6.3
)

90%

1.251

12.54

80%

1.236

12.45

75%

1.225

12.40(6.2
)

60%

1.206

12.27

50%

1.190

12.18

25%

1.155

11.97(6.0
)

DISCHARGED

1.120

11.76

Connect Your Batteries for Optimum Efficiency


When batteries are connected in parallel, as in most R.Vs, the positive terminals are connected together and the
negative terminals are connected together as shown below:

The main advantage of these parallel connections is that the total current delivering capacity is the sum of each
batterys current. The total current is equal to the sum of both batteries. The main disadvantage of this type of
connection is that the total voltage available cannot exceed the voltage of the weakest battery.
Unfortunately, too often we see parallel connections that may be less efficient. For example, the diagram below
shows the traditional way to connect the cables to a dual-battery pack.

The positive and negative cables are connected to the terminals on the same battery, battery #1. This puts more of
the load on battery #1 for the cranking mode and it also gets a higher charging voltage when the dual-battery pack
is being charged. Battery #2 doesnt work as hard because it has extra resistance to overcome in the cables that
connect it to Batt #1. Battery #1 doesnt see that resistance so it is not affected. The cable and connection

resistances reduce the efficiency of battery #2 when cranking or charging especially if corrosion develops. The
figures shown below demonstrate more efficient ways to connect the battery cables to a dual and triple-battery
pack.

Just A Little Corrosion Causes Big Voltage Drops


When one amp of current passes through a circuit with zero ohms (the unit of measure for resistance) of resistance,
no voltage drop occurs. Even when the circuit current increases to 200 amps through zero ohms, still no voltage
drop occurs. The amount of resistance encountered by a current causes a voltage drop. Ohm's Law explains how
small resistance values can cause severe voltage drops. The basic form of Ohm's Law is E = I x R, where the
current, I in amps, is multiplied by the resistance, R in ohms, to equal the voltage drop, E in volts. To see the affect
resistance has on voltage we use Ohm's Law and solve for voltage as shown here by the following equation:
I(Amps) X R(Ohms) = E(Voltage).
By substituting different values for resistance, we can see small resistances can cause significant voltage drop
problems, especially in high amperage systems as shown below:

1 Amp X 0(Ohms)

0 (no voltage
drop)

200 Amp X
0(Ohms)

0 (no voltage
drop)

1 Amp X 1 Ohm

1.0 volt dropped

200 Amp X 0.01


Ohm

2.0 volt dropped

200 Amp X 0.02


Ohm

4.0 volt dropped

The Society of Automotive Engineers, S.A.E., has established the maximum voltage drops for common electrical
circuit cables and connections. The acceptable voltage drops are shown below:
Voltage Drop
(Volts)

American Wire
Size

Curren
t

Component Application

0.01-.09

16 - 20

1-20

Computer Connections, Low Current


Accessories

0.1-.2

4 - 14

20-100

Alternators, High Current Accessories

0.2

00 - 4

100+

Battery/Starter Cables

0.2-.3

N/A

100+

Heavy Duty Switches, Solenoids

Don't Be Misled By Battery Ratings


For years Cold Cranking Amps (CCA tested at 0 F) have been the industry standard of battery amp rating, but in
recent years some battery marketers began testing their products at different temperatures, which result in
different ratings. Cranking amps(CA), sometimes called Marine Cranking Amps(MCA), for example, test battery
performance at 32 F or 0 C, so the rating numbers will be higher than a CCA rating. Since manufacturers
specifications are based on 0 F, you may want to base your buying decision on the CCA rating.
Thats why it is important to remember, batteries displaying higher rating numbers dont necessarily deliver more
performance. Check your battery catalog/replacement guide or your autos owner manual to make sure you are
buying a product that meets your vehicles requirements-and be sure to take a good look at the temperature at
which a battery has been tested and the reserve capacity. If you dont examine the battery label closely, you could
end up with a product that is not really powerful enough to serve your vehicle. With todays electronicallysophisticated equipment, your vehicle depends on your battery more than ever.
You also may see a battery rated with Hot Cranking Amps(HCA) or some other unfamiliar rating. Most products
marketed with an HCA rating promise better performance in warm climates, but beware! Only CCA and CA ratings
are approved by the Battery Council
International(BCI). In fact, the BCI requires that CA-rated products carry a CCA rating with equal prominence so
that proper comparisons can be made. You cant really be sure of a rating that is not approved by the BCI.
Presented below is a table which shows the differences between CCAs, CAs and HCAs.
CCAs

CAs

HCAs

0F

32 F

80 F

275
345
415
450
520
590
625
660
695
765

340
430
520
560
650
740
780
825
870
960

400
500
550
650
750
850
900
950
1000
1100

To avoid the trap of such marketing gimmicks, you can calculate the approximate CCA from other ratings by the
following formulas:
CA (@32 ) X .80 = CCA and HCA (@80) X 0.60 = CCA
Which Deep Cycle Battery Do I Choose?
Below is a table showing the specifications of popular Centennial and Batteries Northwest wet-lead acid, deep cycle
batteries and some Trojan group sizes also. Measurements are overall dimensions and therefore include any
handles, ridges, etc.
GROUP SIZE

CCA(0 deg)

RES. CAP / WEIGHT

20 HR. CAPACITY

DIMENSIONS

Lengt
h

Width

Height

DP24(CEN)

550

125/41

85

11 1/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

DC24(CEN)

600

150/46

87

11 1/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

DC2 (CEN)

650

160/52

105

12 3/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

DC31MF(CEN)

800

225/61

135

13 1/4

6 13/16

9 1/4

B2200 (BatNW)*

500

220/63

225

10 3/8

7 1/8

11 3/16

B24DC(BatNW)

600

110/41

80

11 1/4

6 3 /4

9 3/4

B27DC(BatNW)

650

145/52

87

12 3/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

SCS150(Trogan)

-----

150/50

100

11 1/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

SCS200(Trojan)

-----

200/60

115

12 3/4

6 3/4

9 3/4

SCS225(Trojan)

-----

225/66

130

14

6 3/4

9 3/4

T-105(Trojan)*

-----

447/62

225

10
3/8

7 1/8

10 7/8

T-125(Trojan)*

-----

488/66

235

10 3/8

7 1/8

10 7/8

T-145(Trojan)*

-----

530/72

260

10 3/8

7 1/8

11 5/8

*Please note that these are 6 Volt batteries and two of them, connected in series, are required to produce 12
volts.
The deep cycle batteries shown above have plate designs that consist of a higher density active material than
standard automotive batteries. This higher density material enables the plates to withstand the stresses of
repetitive cycling better.
The grid alloy in a deep cycle is specially formulated to increase the active material adhesion to the grid thereby
providing additional protection against the stresses and abuses of cycling and vibration.
One significant advantage of using the grid alloy (antimony) in deep cycle batteries is that it allows the user to
cycle(discharge and recharge) the battery over 250 to 2200 cycles, depending on the type and depth of cycle.
One disadvantage is that while extra cycling is enhanced, this battery gasses more and water levels must be
checked routinely. The atimoney alloy also increases the self-discharge rate when compared to automotive,
absorbed glass mat (AGM) or gel batteries.
The Plates designed for GC2200, T-105 , T-125 and T-145 use the same active material and alloy of the other deep
cycle batteries but both negative and positive plates are up to 60% thicker than those found in a 24DC or 27DC.
The significance of this is that these 6 Volt batteries should have life span up to 60 to 70% longer than the other
batteries listed.
Daily Amphere-Hour Consumption For Your RV
Those RV-ers who prefer to stay in campgrounds with full hookups have different requirements than those who
enjoy primitive camping without hookups.
If you never boondock and always stay in places with electrical hookups, you probably can get by with one good
quality deep-cycle battery. However, those RV-ers who sometimes or regularly depend on battery power for the

house systems need to do some calculating in order to have enough batteries of the proper size to meet their
requirements.
The first step is to figure a typical days ampere-hour consumption. It is easy to do: Simply multiply the amperage
draw of each item of equipment in the RV by the number of hours it will be used each day. Amperage draw is found
on equipment labels, stamped into the casings, or in the instruction booklets. If your RV manual list only lists watts,
watts can be converted to amperage by dividing by voltage (12 volts). Amperage draws can be directly measured
also with an appropriate amp meter. Typical amperage draws of common RV equipment are listed in the table*
below:
Three lights for 4 hours(4 hrs. x 4.5 amps) =

18.00
Ah

Water pump for 45 minutes; includes two showers (.75 hrs. x 5


3.75 Ah
amps) =
TV, color for 2 hours(2 hrs. x 4 amps) = 8.00 Ah
Miscellaneous (clock, LED pilot lights, etc) 2.00 Ah
31.75
Total
Ah
The total daily consumption of 31.75 may not seem like much, but, in relation to battery capacity, it can be
considerable. If the RV has only one Group 24 battery with a rating of 90 Ah, using 31.75 Ah would deplete 32% of
the batterys capacity. Two Group 24s connected in parallel have the capacity of 180 Ah (90 Ah + 90 Ah). A daily
consumption of 31.75 Ah would deplete 17% of the capacity available. If you dry camped for 3 day (31.75 x 3
days= 95.25 Ah), 52% of your battery capacity would be depleted. The more Ah capacity that is available to your
DC accessories, the longer your systems will run. You can increase more Ah by using either higher capacity
batteries or connecting multiple batteries (2 or 3 or 4) in parallel, if you have room in the battery tray.
* This information is taken from RV ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS-A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repair and
Improvement by Bill and Jan Moeller, 1994, Ragged Mountain Press, Camden, Maine.
Safety Tips on Charging Batteries
Specific charging rates or times cannot be specified for batteries due to several factors that can vary, such
electrical capacity of battery, temperature of electrolyte, state of charge and battery age and condition. We
recommend the use of a hydrometer which measures specific gravity to monitor "how much" to charge.
These following tips can be used as a general guide for safe charging.
1.

Charge batteries in well ventilated area. Don't smoke around charging batteries, they can explode.

2.

Wear protective goggles and clothing. The National Society to Prevent Blindness reports, for instance, that
in 1984, 14,238 people suffered serious eye damage mishandling batteries. Most were "Do it Yourself-ers".

3.

Always assume that explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen gases are present near the battery at all
times.

4.

Don't remove caps when charging a battery. Most vent caps are now designed to be flame resistant.

5.

Cover the vent cap area of battery with a wet cloth to inhibit sparks from igniting escaping gas.

6.

Connect charger to battery terminals while charger is turned off. The turn on the charger. This reduces the
chance of sparks being generated.

7.

Charge single batteries at a specific rate for a specific time determined by the battery's Reserve Capacity
Rating:
Reserve
Capacity

Slow Charge

Fast Charge

80 minutes

10 hrs at 5
amps

2.5 hrs at 20
amps

80-125
minutes

15 hrs at 5
amps

4.0 hrs at 20
amps

125-170
minutes

20 hrs at 5
amps

5.0 hrs at 20
amps

8.
9.

(If batteries are connected in parallel for charging, the output of the charger will be divided equally among
the number of batteries being charged and the charging time will increase).

10. Recharging at the slower rate will prolong battery life.


11. If a battery fails to test "good" after two charging and load test cycles, replace the battery.
Determining When A Battery is Fully Charged
1. The best way to determine when a battery is fully charged is to check specific gravity of each cell with a
hydrometer. (background--As the battery discharges, the sulfuric acid content of the electrolyte solution is
reduced, leaving water. Therefore, the specific gravity decreases as the battery is discharged).
2. Specific gravity measurements show the state of charge of a battery according to the following chart.
State of
Charge
100%
75%
50%
25%
Discharged

Specific
Gravity
1.265
1.225
1.190
1.155
1.120

3.
When a battery is below 75% of full charge, sulfation (or hardening) of the plates begins to occur and
permanent battery damage may result. It is important to keep batteries as fully charged as possible.
POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN USING A HYDROMETER
1.
2.

Hold the hydrometer vertically so the float is free and does not touch the inner walls of the barrel.
To increase accuracy of the hydrometer, draw electrolyte into the bulb a few times until the hydrometer
parts reach the same temperature as the electrolyte.

3.

Hold the hydrometer so that liquid is level in barrel and at eye level.

4.

Read specific gravity from the scale on the calibrated float at the point where the surface of the liquid
crosses the float.

5.

Check each individual battery cell. Specific gravity should not vary more than .050 or "50", points between
cells. If a cell varies more than 50 points, charge again. If this difference still remains, replace the battery.

6.

Measure the electrolyte temperature with a thermometer for best accuracy. Then correct hydrometer
readings for electrolyte temperature (see hydrometer instructions for details on temperature
compensation ... normally, in the summer this does not have to be done given our climate in the
Northwest).

Why Are My Batteries Discharged


It is frustrating to find our batteries discharged, particularly in the spring after our boats, R.V.'s,
motorcycles, personal watercrafts, etc. have been in storage for the fall and winter.
With a little maintenance and information, you can avoid the frustrations of "discharged batteries" and the
cost of buying new batteries as well.

Did you know that a battery starts to discharge once it is filled with electrolyte. Here in the Northwest, most
boat and car batteries left unattended (and assuming no "parasitic drains" from computers, etc) will not
start the engine after about 3 months. For smaller batteries such as personal watercraft and motorcycles, it
takes only about a month to discharge the battery to 75%, which usually will prevent the engine from
starting. In hotter climates, this can occur in less time than those specified above.

Discharged batteries not only won't start your vehicle but will become ruined and in need of replacement if
left without any maintenance. A process called "sulfation" occurs if the battery voltage drops below 12.4
volts or if specific gravity drops below 1.225 as measured by hydrometer. Sulfation actually hardens the
battery's internal plates, which need to remain soft and porous so that the electrolyte can flow through
them.

Monitoring your batteries for these parameters, voltage and specific gravity, can be done easily and
cheaply and will ensure maximum life from your batteries. All you need is a voltmeter and hydrometer.

Armed with this information you can then determine if you need to charge your battery.

For those applications where batteries are stored for over 2-3 months "without use", an excellent option to
maintain your batteries are the "completely automatic, complete shut off "chargers that are now available.
These chargers have computer chips that sense when the battery needs charging and automatically turns
itself on. After the battery is charge it automatically turns itself off and therefore never overcharges or
undercharges your batteries. They can be left connected to an AC outlet indefinitely. Contact us for more
information.

What is the difference between series battery connections and parallel battery connections and how do they
increase battery capacity and voltage?
Answer: In the SERIES CONNECTION, batteries of like voltage and Amp-Hr capacity are connected to increase the
Voltage of the battery bank. The positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the
second battery and so on, until the desired voltage is reached. The final Voltage is the sum of all the battery voltages
added together while the final Amp-Hr, Cranking Performance and Reserve Capacity remain unchanged.

Battery System: 12 Volt, 225 AH


Using Two T-105 Deep Cycle Batteries
(6 Volts, 225 AH each)

Answer: In PARALLEL CONNECTION, batteries of like voltages and capacities are connected to increase the capacity
of the battery bank. The positive terminals of all batteries are connected together, or to a common conductor, and all
negative terminals are connected in the same manner. The final voltage remains unchanged while the capacity of the
bank is the sum of the capacities of the individual batteries of this connection. Amp-Hrs, Cranking Performance and
Reserve Capacity increases while Voltage does not.

Battery System: 6 Volt, 450 AH


Using Two T-105 Deep Cycle Batteries
(6 Volts, 225 AH each)

DEFINITIONS
COLD CRANKING AMPS (CCA): The maximum amperes that can be continuously removed from a battery for 30
seconds at zero degrees F before the voltage drops too low to use (7.2 volts). This term is used only for engine
starting batteries, and has little to do with the amp-hour capacity or deep cycle batteries. This rating will also appear
on many deep cycle marine batteries.
CRANKING AMPS (CA): A rather optimistic market driven rating, especially for economy or value priced batteries.
The same CCA, but a 32 degrees F (0 C) temperature. The standard Battery Council International rating is CCA, at 0
degrees F (about -18 C). The MCA, or Marine Cranking Amps is basically the same at CA. CCA is about 20% less than
CA or MCA.
RESERVE CAPACITY (RC): Reserve capacity is sometime used to rate deep cycle batteries. It is the number of minutes
that a battery can maintain a useful voltage at a constant 25 amp discharge rate at 80 degrees that run heavy loads,
although most batteries also have tables that show the AH capacity at different discharge rates. AH is approximately
equal to RC X 0.60)

Jump start procedures


1. Before attempting to jump start the car, it is important to use safety glasses. Measure battery
terminal post voltage with a volt meter to determine if battery has a shorted cell. A car should not be jump
started if the battery has a shorted cell. The voltage at the shorted battery remains about two volts low
even with the jumper cables connected. Attempts to jump start the car could result in damaged computer
memories or alternator damage from voltage spikes from the source battery. Using jumper cables and jump
starting should be the last resort.
Background: A reading of 11.89 volts(0% charge) indicates the battery state of charge and a shorted cell
may not exist in the battery. Compare the actual reading obtained to the BATTERY VOLTAGE vs. STATE OF
CHARGE CHART to determine the batterys state of charge shown below. Readings below 12.45 volts
indicate low state of charge and might be the reason the battery cannot crank the engine. A reading of
about 10.55 volts(4.22 for six volt batteries), indicates the battery may have a shorted cell and should be
replaced.
OPEN CIRCUIT
VOLTAGE
12.66 VOLTS
12.45
12.18
11.97
11.76

2.

3.

vs.

STATE OF
CHARGE
100% CHARGED
75
50
25
0

Place the source car (good battery) close enough to the dead car so that jumper cables can reach
between the batteries without stretching too tight. The jumper cables should be long enough and the cars
close enough so the jumper cables have plenty of slack. Do not let car bumpers touch each other. Wear
protective eye glasses. Do not attempt to jump start a car if gasoline fumes are present around either the
source car or the car with the dead battery.
Turn the source car off before making any jumper cable connections between the two batteries. Having
the source car OFF lowers the voltage on the source battery voltage. The lower voltage helps reduce the
amplitude of voltage spikes generated when jumper cables are connected to the dead battery. Make your
last connection be the ground on the car being jumped and maximize the distance of this connection from
the positive terminal.
Background: Avoid voltage spikes at the battery terminals. Voltage spikes are generated when jumper
cables or battery charger cables are connected to the battery terminals of a weak or dead battery. These
voltage spikes can shock computers memories and alter information stored in sensitive memory chips
inside computers. The most sensitive memory chips are called EEPROMs (Electrically-Erasable PROMs) or
NVM chips (Non-Volatile Memory).

Preparing your batteries for winter


Winter is the hardest on your car. Colder temperatures make your engine harder to crank and your
battery less able to crank the engine over. There are services that should be performed now to
maintain vehicle reliability. If you believe out-of-sight, out-of-mind is acceptable for vehicle
maintenance, its time for a reality check. Good vehicle performance is directly linked to the care it
receives.
1.

2.

Visually inspect your battery for clean surfaces, loose connections, and corrosion. Dirt, corrosion
and moisture provide a path for energy to escape from the battery. When corrosion
or dirt accumulates,
use a weak solution of baking soda and water to clean the batterys exterior. You may need a wire brush to
scrub the terminals. Loose connections also may result in an explosion! Battery cables are important as
defective cables and poor connections are two of the top reasons for cranking problems. Keep cable and
connections bright and tight. Play close attention to ground connections.
Make sure you maintain the electrolyte levels (for serviceable batteries) between above the
batterys plates and below the vent well cap opening. Plates exposed to air will sulfate, become hard
and brittle and youll loose battery power. Be careful not to overfill. Adding too much water not only dilutes
the electrolytes sulfuric acid but can cause a drop in voltage. Never add acid to the battery!

3.

Measure the state of charge with preferable a hydrometer. If the battery is sealed, let the
voltage equilibrate and determine state of charge with an accurate volt meter. Appropriate
charge levels (1.265 specific gravity as measured by a hydrometer and 12.6 volts as measured with a volt
meter) are very important component of year around maintenance. A discharged battery will lead to a
starting failure. A battery stored in a discharged state is susceptible to sulfation and freezing.

4.

Have your battery tested by a mechanic or battery specialist to ensure that it meets
manufacturing specs for its power. Not all batteries are created equal. You need a load tester or
other digital battery testing equipment to accurately test the battery. If the battery does not met
manufacturers specs, then replace the battery with one that does.

5.

If you are storing batteries be sure to charge the battery before storage and store them in a
cool, dry location. Once a battery is filled with electrolyte, it discharges at 1% a day at 70 degree
Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures, from 40 to 60 degrees F are ideal. Discharged batteries can freeze at 18
degrees F. Batteries stored in cars newer than 1981 have parasitic drains that will further discharge the
batteries. Check with a specialist before disconnecting the battery from the cars electrical system. Charge
automotive, R.V. batteries every 3 months. Charge motorcycle and ATV batteries once every month. For
vehicles left in storage including cars, R.Vs, trucks, motorcycles, personal water craft, etc, there are
several very good manufacturers (i.e. Interactor, VDC Electronics, Battery Tender, etc) that have perfected
completely automatic chargers that will maintain your batteries at a full state of charge but not
overcharge.

Advantages and Disadvantages of using two 12 volt batteries connected in parallel or two 6 volt batteries
connected in series.
It would appear that there is no significant difference in capacity and voltage between these two examples. But this
really is not the case. The plates designed for the T-105 use the same active material and alloy of the group 27
deep cycle batteries but both the T-105 negative and positive plates are 60% thicker than those found in the deep
cycle 27 group sizes. The significance of this is that these 6 Volt batteries should have a longer lifespan than the
two deep cycle 27 group sizes, if properly cared for. While the capacities are similar (220 versus 225 Amp Hrs.),
battery longevity favors the two 6 Volt batteries. Why? Because a major cause of deep cycle battery failure is the
shedding of active material from the battery plates.
Testing the battery
Presented below are the basic testing procedures used by professionals to determine if your battery is good or
bad. These are presented in a bullet format for ease of reading and interpreting. More detailed discussion can
be found on the internet should you want to pursue it.
STEP 1: VISUAL INSPECTION

Check the battery case for breaks and leaks

Clean corrosion off battery and terminals if present

Check to see if electrolyte levels (if low maintenance battery) are above plates

Check electrolyte color (if low maintenance battery) A dark color indicates overcharging)

If the battery is sealed, check for cracks or corrosion

STEP 2: STATE OF CHARGE

Check with hydrometer (if low maintenance battery)

If readings are less than 50 specific gravity points between highest and lowest cell, go to step 3; if not,
continue

Recharge if one or more cells are below 1.225 specific gravity

Remove surface charge with a load tester if battery has been on charge

If the battery is sealed, determine state of charge with an accurate volt meter

If voltage for sealed battery is below 12.6 charge the battery with automatic charger and then proceed to
step 3.

STEP 3: LOAD TEST THE BATTERY

Apply the CCA rating for 15 seconds and compare resulting voltage with voltage chart

At 70 degrees the voltage should remain above 9.6 volts to pass; at 60 degrees passing voltage is 9.5; at
50 degrees passing voltage is 9.4; at 30 degrees passing voltage is 9.1 volts.

STEP 4: ANALYZE RESULTS

Continue to observe bounce back voltage after load is removed.

If battery voltage fails to bounce back to 12.4 volts for 12-volt batteries and 6.2 volts for 6-volt batteries,
recharge and recheck.

Can the Lead-acid Battery Compete in Modern Times?


The answer is YES. Lead-acid is the oldest rechargeable battery in existence. Invented by the French physician
Gaston Plant in 1859, lead-acid was the first rechargeable battery for commercial use. 150 years later, we still
have no cost-effective alternatives for cars, wheelchairs, scooters, golf carts and UPS systems. The lead-acid
battery has retained a market share in applications where newer battery chemistries would either be too expensive.
Lead-acid does not lend itself to fast charging. Typical charge time is 8 to 16 hours. A periodic fully saturated
charge is essential to prevent sulfation and the battery must always be stored in a charged state. Leaving the
battery in a discharged condition causes sulfation and a recharge may not be possible.
Finding the ideal charge voltage limit is critical. A high voltage (above 2.40V/cell) produces good battery
performance but shortens the service life due to grid corrosion on the positive plate. A low voltage limit is subject to
sulfation on the negative plate. Leaving the battery on float charge for a prolonged time does not cause damage.
Lead-acid does not like deep cycling. A full discharge causes extra strain and each cycle robs the battery of some
service life. This wear-down characteristic also applies to other battery chemistries in varying degrees. To prevent
the battery from being stressed through repetitive deep discharge, a larger battery is recommended. Lead-acid is
inexpensive but the operational costs can be higher than a nickel-based system if repetitive full cycles are required.
Depending on the depth of discharge and operating temperature, the sealed lead-acid provides 200 to 300
discharge/charge cycles. The primary reason for its relatively short cycle life is grid corrosion of the positive
electrode, depletion of the active material and expansion of the positive plates. These changes are most prevalent
at higher operating temperatures. Cycling does not prevent or reverse the trend.
The lead-acid battery has one of the lowest energy densities, making it unsuitable for portable devices. In addition,
the performance at low temperatures is marginal. The self-discharge is about 40% per year, one of the best on
rechargeable batteries. In comparison, nickel-cadmium self-discharges this amount in three months. The high lead
content makes the lead-acid environmentally unfriendly.
Plate thickness
The service life of a lead-acid battery can, in part, be measured by the thickness of the positive plates. The thicker
the plates, the longer the life will be. During charging and discharging, the lead on the plates gets gradually eaten
away and the sediment falls to the bottom. The weight of a battery is a good indication of the lead content and the
life expectancy.
The plates of automotive starter batteries are about 0.040" (1mm) thick, while the typical golf cart battery will have
plates that are between 0.07-0.11" (1.8- 2.8mm) thick. Forklift batteries may have plates that exceed 0.250"
(6mm). Most industrial flooded deep-cycle batteries use lead-antimony plates. This improves the plate life but
increases gassing and water loss.

Sealed lead-acid
During the mid 1970s, researchers developed a maintenance-free lead-acid battery that can operate in any
position. The liquid electrolyte is gelled into moistened separators and the enclosure is sealed. Safety valves allow
venting during charge, discharge and atmospheric pressure changes.
Driven by different market needs, two lead-acid systems emerged: The small sealed lead-acid (SLA), also known
under the brand name of Gelcell, and the larger Valve-regulated-lead-acid (VRLA). Both batteries are similar.
Engineers may argue that the word 'sealed lead-acid' is a misnomer because no rechargeable battery can be totally
sealed.
Unlike the flooded lead-acid battery, both SLA and VRLA are designed with a low over-voltage potential to prohibit
the battery from reaching its gas-generating potential during charge because excess charging would cause gassing
and water depletion. Consequently, these batteries can never be charged to their full potential. To reduce dry-out,
sealed lead-acid batteries use lead-calcium instead of the lead-antimony.
The optimum operating temperature for the lead-acid battery is 25*C (77*F). Elevated temperature reduces
longevity. As a guideline, every 8C (15F) rise in temperature cuts the battery life in half. A VRLA, which would last
for 10 years at 25C (77F), would only be good for 5 years if operated at 33C (92F). The same battery would
desist after 2 years if kept at a constant desert temperature of 41C (106F).
The sealed lead-acid battery is rated at a 5-hour (0.2) and 20-hour (0.05C) discharge. Longer discharge times
produce higher capacity readings because of lower losses. The lead-acid performs well on high load currents.
Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries (AGM)
The AGM is a newer type sealed lead-acid that uses absorbed glass mats between the plates. It is sealed,
maintenance-free and the plates are rigidly mounted to withstand extensive shock and vibration. Nearly all AGM
batteries are recombinant, meaning they can recombine 99% of the oxygen and hydrogen. There is almost no
water is loss.
The charging voltages are the same as for other lead-acid batteries. Even under severe overcharge conditions,
hydrogen emission is below the 4% specified for aircraft and enclosed spaces. The low self-discharge of 1-3% per
month allows long storage before recharging. The AGM costs twice that of the flooded version of the same capacity.
Because of durability, German high performance cars use AGM batteries in favor of the flooded type.
Advantages

Inexpensive and simple to manufacture.


Mature, reliable and well-understood technology - when used correctly, lead-acid is durable and provides
dependable service.

The self-discharge is among the lowest of rechargeable battery systems.

Capable of high discharge rates.

Limitations

Low energy density - poor weight-to-energy ratio limits use to stationary and wheeled applications.
Cannot be stored in a discharged condition - the cell voltage should never drop below 2.10V.

Allows only a limited number of full discharge cycles - well suited for standby applications that require only
occasional deep discharges.

lead content and electrolyte make the battery environmentally unfriendly.

Transportation restrictions on flooded lead acid - there are environmental concerns regarding spillage.

Thermal runaway can occur if improperly charged.