The lead-acid battery
Invented more than one a half century ago, the lead-acid battery represents the oldest type of rechargeable battery. A relatively large power-to-weight ratio, completed with low costs led to their successful usage in the automobile industry, providing high current for vehicles and automobile starter motors.
Moreover, being quite inexpensive as opposed to newer and high-performance technologies, lead acid batteries are used in a wide range of industries, including to backup power in cell phone towers, maintain a high power speed in hospitals, as well as stand-alone trustworthy power systems.
Lead acid battery maintenance
Lead-acid battery industry counts for about 15 billion USD (1), as well as for up to 45% of the total value of batteries sold worldwide. But properly lead acid battery maintenance could be quite difficult, especially if you are not the expert in the electronics field.
Read below to find a series of tips and tricks on how to easily look after lead acid batteries, as well as how to ensure its correct full battery charge.
Before getting started
Before considering ways on extending your battery’s life expectancy, get to know a little bit about your battery. Make sure you know its exact system voltage, battery compartment size, as well as your energy requirements.
In addition, you should determine the type of acid battery used, choosing from deep-cycle flooded ones, to AGM or gel batteries. Choosing the right type of battery is essential for your further energy requirements.
However, if you do not know exactly which type of battery to use, it is best to contact your equipment manufacturer for detailed technical support.
All batteries, no matter their type, should be stored at proper temperatures and in proper conditions. Most batteries require a 15 degrees Celsius temperature, or approximately 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, extreme temperatures of up to -40 degrees Celsius can be achieved for most chemistry. Usually, lead-acid batteries require a full charge during storage.
You can easily store a sealed lead-acid battery for up to two years before it starts to slowly self-discharge in time. Thus, before using any type of battery, new or old, it is best to first check the voltage and specific gravity, and further charge the battery until 70% at the least.
Needless to say, you should keep your batteries away from freezing or excessive heating and store them in a dry and cool space. Also, bear in mind that most batteries tend to freeze more easily if they are left in discharged state, thus make sure you charge the battery before planning on storing it for a longer period of time.
Usually, lead-acid batteries utilize the constant current-constant voltage (CC/CV) charging method. This means that regulated current is sent to your device until the upper charging voltage limit is reached, point at which your battery is fully saturated.
A full charge usually takes 12 to 16 hours, but the time period could take up to 48 hours for large stationary batteries.
Moreover, by using higher charging currents or one of the multi-stage charge methods, you can reduce the full charging cycle to 8 hours the most.
Also, bear in mind that all lead acid batteries are charged in three different phases, from the constant-current charge stage, to the float charge state.
During the constant-current charge, the battery is usually charged up to the 70% limit in less than 8 hours. The remaining 30% of the battery is finished with slower topping charge and it lasts another 10 hours the most.
The topping charge is the most important one because it ensures the battery’s ability to reach the point of full charge, meaning 100%.
By gradually depraving your battery from top charging, the product will start losing its ability to recognize a 100% full battery charge, which will automatically determine the battery to lose energy faster and easier.
Make sure the charging is happening in a ventilated area to prevent overheating. Also, do not allow the lead acid to reach its freezing point and avoid charging at temperatures of over 49 degrees Celsius.
Prolonging the life of lead-acid batteriesSome common sense piece of advice when it comes to this field would be to avoid corrosion, electrical short, dry-out, sulfation or acid stratification. Bear in mind that lead-acid batteries require up to 50 full charging cycles to reach peak capacity and to fully function.