Care and maintenance of lead-acid batteries

Care and maintenance of lead-acid batteries
Care and maintenance of lead-acid batteries

Battery Care: Battery protection is extremely important to avoid unpleasant and costly discharges, particularly in the case of vehicles that are left unused for extended periods, such as seasonal farm equipment, classic cars, and motorcycles. Unused batteries gradually discharge and can be irreparably damaged if left untreated.

Here are some tips from our suppliers for protecting batteries in vehicles that aren’t used regularly.

Seasonal or winter storage of the vehicle:

  • Check the battery for cracks. Otherwise, the battery must be disposed of or repaired by a professional.
  • Thoroughly clean the battery top, terminals, and connections with baking soda and water to remove dirt or moisture. Dirt and moisture accelerate the natural discharge of the battery.
  • Clean, dry, and lightly grease the contact terminals to protect them from corrosion.
  • In conventional (not maintenance-free) flooded batteries, check the electrolyte level and top up between the min/max marks with distilled water only.
  • Recharge the battery regularly to avoid deep discharge. If you have an electrical outlet in your garage or shed, we recommend the use of a smart charger that can keep the charge levels and battery in good condition so that your vehicle is always ready for use.

Before restarting the vehicle:

  • Make sure the battery terminals are clean and securely fastened.
  • Check the battery charge levels and recharge if necessary.
  • Many people think that by starting the battery with the help of another battery and leaving the vehicle running for a long time, the battery is recharged by the alternator. However, this is not the case, as the alternator only partially recharges the battery. After this initial period of operation, the battery must be fully recharged, or it will discharge again.
  • Use a good intelligent 12v battery charger, automatic with trickle technology and end-of-charge device, spark-proof and reverse polarity. Thanks to the maintenance technology, the battery chargers can be left connected to the batteries for months without worrying about anything.

Battery life times: The lifetime of a battery can vary considerably depending on several factors. The most important is correct use and correct maintenance (recharging).

(1) Expected life of an accumulator
The expected life of a battery or design also varies greatly according to its operating temperature. The expected life of the batteries has been drawn up according to Eurobat specifications at a temperature of 20°C. Using the battery with an operating temperature above 20°C also significantly reduces the expected life of the battery (life expectancy). The EUROBAT Guide VRLA Batteries indicates that the working temperature is above 20°C. Significantly reduces battery life expectancy, with a 50% reduction in life for every 10°C. the Constant increase in temperature.

Main ones that can lead to premature damage to the battery:

(2) Leave the battery idle (sulfation by self-discharge).
A characteristic of all lead-acid batteries is that of self-discharge. If not used for long periods, they will self-discharge. This happens most often during the winter storage of vehicles, motorcycles and electric vehicles, and golf carts. In the spring, when you want to reuse the battery, despite several attempts to recharge it, it no longer works. The battery has become “sulfated,” i.e., the electrodes have become coated with lead-sulfur crystals that are large and deep enough that they can no longer be removed during the charging process. This process (sulfation) is practically irreversible. It condemns the battery to a premature end which could easily be avoided if it had always been kept at 95-100% of its charge during vehicle inactivity by employing a battery charger with a maintenance function. Load. N.B. The battery, when charged, measures 13.2-13.7 Volts. When it measures 12 Volts, the battery is not charged!

Lead-acid battery
Lead-acid battery

(3) Discharging the batteries beyond their maximum limit (electrode corrosion)
Discharging the battery beyond its maximum limit damages the battery. Each time the battery is discharged in this manner, a fraction of the electrodes corrode and settle to the bottom of the battery. This determines a progressively smaller exchange surface between the electrolyte and the electrode inside the battery, with a lower mechanical resistance of the electrodes themselves (as they are eroded).

(4) Overcharge (electrolyte destruction)
Overcharging the battery is a serious mistake, as its effects are often invisible. By delivering a constant current regardless of the state of the battery, it will cause the electrolyte to evaporate in a short time (hours) in standard (or sealed M.F.) batteries or the formation of cavities (gas bubbles) in the gelled electrolyte in the case of alkaline batteries. Gel.

AGM battery technology: VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead-Acid) AGM lead batteries are recombination lead batteries, even if called hermetic. AGM lead-acid batteries have a glass microfiber inside, which completely retains the acid, allowing you to reduce the distance between the plates and use less acid. The batteries are assembled under pressure and remain under pressure even during operation. In this way, acid dispersion is avoided, and the battery’s shelf life increases. It is leak-proof (even if the cylinder block is damaged) and could be mounted upside down. They are maintenance-free, and under normal conditions, they do not emit gas when charging.

Choosing the type of AGM battery: there are different categories of AGM batteries: standby, cyclic (where continuous charging and discharging are required), onboard services, UPS, and starting. The correct battery must be chosen according to the use and installation conditions.

VRLA AGM batteries – Standby use: this battery has been designed for Standby applications. It is not a cyclic battery and is unsuitable for applications where daily deep charge and discharge are required and for applications with electric traction. For Cyclic applications, see Cyclic AGM and GEL batteries.

N.B. Warning: while charging the battery, it must not be discharged at the same time
Charging current: check the technical data indicated by the manufacturer, but never more than 30% of the battery capacity.

Buffer charge voltage: 13.5 – 13.8V – Cyclic use charge voltage: 14.7 – 15.0V.

VRLA – Cyclic – Deep Cycle AGM batteries: thanks to a particular plate, it is suitable for use in equipment for the disabled, electric golf trolleys, lifts, etc. Its efficiency in discharges is given by the possibility of approximately 300/400 cycles at 80% of discharge depth while discharged at 30% of capacity, reaching 1,200 cycles.

Buffer charge voltage: 13.5 – 13.8V – Cyclic use charge voltage: 14.4 – 15.0V.
GEL batteries: Suggested charging voltage for cyclic use: 14.10 – 14.40V for HAZE and 14.7 – 15.0V for FAAM batteries

Battery life is considered in several cycles.

Charging AGM and GEL batteries: charging must be done with a constant voltage battery charger, strictly following the data shown on the battery. An incorrect voltage can lead to immediate deterioration of the battery itself.

Check the Initial current data on the battery label, which is normally about 30% max of the battery’s nominal capacity. Chargers with charging current below 15-25% of the nominal capacity are not suitable for charging, but possibly only for trickle!

A power supply is not permitted as it is unsuitable and dangerous for recharging the batteries (it does not have end-of-charge control). While charging the battery, it must not be discharged simultaneously; always check the technical data indicated by the manufacturer for the maximum charging current.

Discharge of AGM and GEL batteries:
– During the discharge phase, it must not be brought to a voltage lower than 5.25 Volts for a 6V battery and 10.80 Volts for a 12 Volt battery.

– It must never be discharged beyond 80% (only for cyclic batteries) and with a voltage lower than 10.8 Volts.

If the above is not respected, the guarantee will be lost. The law establishes that the production and conformity defect is considered as such if it occurs within the first six months of the purchase.

– It must not be left empty after use but must be recharged immediately.

Life cycles of an AGM or GEL battery:
The number of life cycles (charge and discharge cycles) of a cyclic or Deep Cycle AGM or GEL battery differs from the technology, the conditions of use, the correct functioning, and the sizing of the battery charger from the correct maintenance and the quality of the batteries. It can vary from 300-400 (with 90% depth of discharge) to 1200 (with 50% discharge) with a maximum operating temperature of 25°C. Therefore, with daily cyclical use, based on the depth of discharge and the conditions described above, the batteries can run out even within one year of life. Solar battery is an environmentally friendly battery that can be charged by solar panels and is widely used outdoors.

Warranty for AGM or GEL batteries for cyclic use, the warranty for all batteries is 1 year on manufacturing defects. Still, it is not valid for cyclic ones, where battery life is not in years but in several cycles life.

The law establishes that the production and conformity defect is considered as such if it occurs within the first six months of the purchase; after this period, it is necessary to verify by testing the battery if it is a manufacturing or maintenance defect or other or if the battery has exhausted its number of life cycles.

Warnings: The battery contains sulfuric acid. Care must be taken when handling it. In case of accidental contact with the acid:

Do not touch your eyes or mouth.
Wash immediately with running water.
Go to the hospital emergency room.

Disposal: Batteries must be disposed of according to current regulations