How To Measure A Flooded Lead Acid Battery’s State Of Charge

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U.S. Battery Manufacturing provides informative tips on how to measure a battery’s state-of-charge in the company’s newest Tech Tips video. The video explains  in detail on the benefits of being able to measure the state of charge in a flooded lead-acid battery, and how to perform the operation with a simple hydrometer. By using the information demonstrated in the video, U.S. Battery Manufacturing customers and dealers can determine a variety of battery conditions and overall battery health, as well as diagnose potential problems. U.S. Battery Manufacturing is dedicated to providing its customers and dealers with helpful  information and tips to properly maintain battery performance and extend service life. Other Tech-Tip videos and articles are available on the newly re-designed U.S. Battery website, at  The new video on how to measure a battery’s state of charge is also available on the company’s YouTube and Facebook social media sites to view and share. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit

How To Select The Right Golf Car Battery

By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President/Engineering U.S. Battery Manufacturing

Every golf car fleet manager knows that flooded lead acid batteries used for powering their fleet will eventually need to be replaced. Purchasing new batteries can be expensive so it’s important to do the research and select batteries with the longest cycle life and the lowest cost per cycle over their lifetime. Finding the “best” set of batteries however, requires more than just comparing the ratings on the labels and prices.

To find the best battery for your application(s), start by determining the correct size, voltage and ampere hour (AH) capacity required for your specific golf car.  For older cars, increase the AH capacity by ~20 percent to allow an added margin for efficiency.  Check the battery manufacturer’s rating charts to determine which battery provides the proper voltage, AH capacity, and/or runtime that matches your application.  If you’re comparing batteries from different manufacturers, it’s important to carefully check the information to be sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.

Battery cycle life ratings are often based on selective data from the manufacturer.  Typically, cycle life ratings are determined by the depth of discharge (DOD), the percentage of AH capacity discharged from the battery on each discharge.  As an example, a battery with an 80 percent DOD has only 20 percent of its capacity left. Most battery manufacturers recommend a 50 percent DOD for optimum cycle life vs runtime, but cycle life can be quoted at a wide variety of DOD ratings. This can result in what appears to show a longer cycle life for one battery type over another but may not be an accurate comparison.  When comparing cycle life ratings, make sure they are rated using the same DOD. This will give you a good point to start.

Because test methods, temperatures, charging algorithms, and charging methods all affect cycle life, relying on printed ratings shouldn’t be your only point of reference. Generally speaking, less expensive batteries may have fewer or lighter internal components (lead plates and plate construction) and may have shorter cycle life in the same application due to greater DOD.  Batteries with more or heavier plates will typically have longer cycle life but will also cost more initially. So a less expensive battery might be a better choice for someone with a golf car that is used occasionally or won’t be driven for long periods between charges.  However, for fleets with golf cars that see heavy cycling, a higher capacity battery would benefit them by providing longer run times and lower DOD resulting in longer cycle life.

All that being said, when comparing battery brands to determine which one will be best, be sure to understand the differences between your application and standard test conditions.  Manufacturers test batteries in laboratory environments that are intended to simulate actual conditions encountered in a variety of applications.  These conditions may not perfectly duplicate those in your application, but by understanding the differences, the best comparison can be made.  If possible, take notes on use patterns, charging practices, and battery maintenance frequency and compare with the battery manufacturers’ recommendations.  Ultimately you may find that one brand stands out from the others and offers you the best performance-per-dollar in your application.

For more information on battery life cycle ratings and to find information on U.S. Battery products, visit the company’s website at

Safe Handling Tips For Servicing Flooded Lead Acid Batteries

Performing maintenance on flooded lead-acid batteries in golf car fleets can get to be routine for fleet managers and workers who perform these tasks on a weekly or monthly basis. But no matter how routine, making safety a top priority must remain a key factor for those who regularly handle lead-acid batteries.

Even though lead acid batteries are handled safely on a daily basis by millions of battery users and maintenance personnel worldwide, unfortunately improper handling can result in easily preventable injuries.  According to a variety of occupational safety and hazard organizations, nearly 2,300 people in the U.S. are injured each year while working with or around lead acid batteries.  To prevent accidents or injuries when working on or around batteries, it is important to implement these 10 safety procedures and make sure fleet managers and employees always follow them:

1) Always wear protective eyewear and gloves. The electrolyte in flooded lead acid batteries contains sulfuric acid. The electrolyte can not only damage clothes, but it will burn skin if left untreated. If you come into contact with the battery’s electrolyte, wash and flush the area with water immediately.  If it comes into contact with your eyes, flush immediately with water for 15 minutes and promptly seek medical attention. Providing easily accessible eye wash stations is required in most industrial sites.  Consult OSHA standards for more information.

2) Eliminate sources of sparks or flames. Charging lead acid batteries produces hydrogen and oxygen gases from the electrolyte. When performing maintenance on lead acid batteries, a spark or flame can ignite these gases and could cause the battery to explode.

3) Keep metal tools and jewelry away from batteries. Non-insulated tools or jewelry can run the risk of arcing if accidental contact is made between a battery terminal and grounded frame or another terminal. Also, gold or silver jewelry can become extremely hot if contact is made.  Always wear gloves and use insulated tools to remove terminals and battery hold-downs.

4) Use caution when removing a lead acid battery. Lead acid batteries are heavy and many accidental injuries occur when lifting or moving batteries by hand. Use a battery carrier or make sure you have a good grip on the battery and have the strength to hold it safely.

5) Keep a neutralizing solution close by.  A baking soda and water solution neutralizes the sulfuric acid in the battery’s electrolyte. Create a small solution in a jar or container and keep it close by. If some electrolyte is accidentally spilled, you can immediately use the solution to clean the area, then rinse with water.  Note: Do not use baking soda solution in eye wash bottles or stations.

6) Use the correct type of charger. Not all battery chargers are the same or work properly on a flooded lead-acid battery. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to properly charge the battery and make sure your charger provides the best algorithm that maximizes battery life and power output. Battery charging should always be done in a well-ventilated area.

7) Maintain electrolyte at proper levels. Never use a garden hose to fill batteries. Use only distilled or deionized water in a watering pitcher, water caddy or an automated watering system to properly fill batteries. Never fill battery cells above the level indicator. If the electrolyte level is below the tops of the battery plates prior to charging, add just enough water to cover them. Once the battery has been fully recharged, bring the water level up to approximately ¼ inch from the bottom of the fill well indicator.  Never fill a low cell all the way to the fill well indicator before charging.

8) Store batteries in a cool, dry and ventilated area. If you store large quantities of batteries, be sure the area is clear of any heat sources, flames, and sparks. Clearly post “No Smoking” and “Flammable” signs in the area.

9) Make sure battery vent caps are fully seated in place. Loose or improperly seated vent caps can spill electrolyte and expose the gases inside the battery to conditions that could cause an explosion.

10) Dedicate an area for battery maintenance. Prevent accidents by dedicating an area for battery maintenance that has properly insulated tools, protective wear, a wash station, ventilation and plenty of workspace.

 U.S. Battery Video On Maintenance Tips:

For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave., Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit

Flooded Lead Acid Battery Maintenance: Are Battery Watering Systems Worth The Cost?

Is watering a battery manually versus using a watering system actually saving you money in the long run?

By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President/Engineering U.S. Battery Manufacturing

Golf courses always look for ways to reduce their maintenance costs. But cutting corners with battery maintenance on a golf car fleet can have a dramatic affect on the life expectancy of their deep-cycle batteries. One of those essential maintenance procedures is watering. But the decision to add water manually, versus using a more expensive automated watering system, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s saving you any money in the long run.

While it may seem easier and cost effective to use a garden hose to refill each battery cell, the fact is, you could actually be damaging the batteries and reducing their life expectancy. First of all, no battery manufacturer recommends using a garden hose to refill the water in any deep-cycle battery.  If you prefer to water manually, make sure to use only distilled water, and take carful measurements. Use a water delivery gun, watering pitcher or at the very least, some type of measuring cup to ensure you’re delivering the right amount for each cell. The electrolyte should be kept about 1/4-inch below the bottom of the fill-well in the battery’s cell cover.

Watering systems on the other hand, automatically and precisely fill each battery cell with the right amount. You can also water multiple batteries at once. While watering systems are easy to use, and can save lots of time, they are an added expense for a large fleet.

So to determine which method is most cost effective, we first have to decide how often the batteries must be watered, and the amount of time and cost it takes to water the entire fleet. On average, medium to heavy use golf courses should water their fleet’s batteries at least once per month.

Watering batteries manually takes about 15-30 seconds per cell, and typically involves removing the vent caps, using a watering pitcher or water caddy, (never use a garden hose), and replacing the vent caps.  For a 48-volt golf car, this would translate to approximately 6 to 12 minutes per car.  Multiply that times an average 100-car fleet, and watering once per month translates to 120 to 240 hours per year.  Not bad, but also add in $15 per hour for an average technician, and your maintenance costs can average $1,800 to $3,600 per year.

Compared to a watering system, the time is reduced to 1 to 2 minutes per car, for any size battery pack (no vent cap removal and replacement is required on many watering systems). For the same 100 car fleet, watered once per month, the maintenance time per year is reduced down to 20 to 40 hours, and at a cost of $300 to $600 per year.  That’s a reduction in cost of $1500 to $3000 per year or $7500 to $15,000 over a five year life expectancy of the batteries.

Many golf courses think watering systems are just too expensive, and that doing it by hand must be cheaper in the long run. But consider that the expected life of a watering system is somewhat longer than five years. Many fleet managers that do utilize a watering system claim they can get 10 years out of it, with a moderate level of maintenance and replacement parts.  If we add all the numbers up, the cost of a typical watering system is approximately $100 per car. The cost for the 100 car fleet is approximately $10,000. With this type of investment however, a golf course could expect the payback period to be three to seven years with extended battery life as a bonus.

So for larger fleets, the upfront cost of a watering system can make a significant difference in the long run. But, not every fleet is the same, so you’ll have to figure in your numbers for yourself, to see what’s best for your particular fleet.  Check the websites on various watering system manufacturers. They often have an online calculator that can help measure your return on the investment.

Saving money on maintenance costs is one benefit, but if you can also dramatically increase the life of your fleet’s batteries, then you could see some real savings that might change the way you think about battery maintenance, and the importance of carefully watering your batteries.
Find additional resources on battery maintenance and ways to increase battery efficiency and service life, visit U.S. Battery’s website at