Diagnosing A Bad Deep-Cycle Battery

Finding The Weak Deep-Cycle Battery In Your Pack

There’s a time in the lifespan of a deep-cycle, flooded lead-acid battery where it will begin to fail and not hold a full charge.  Typically there’s no indication when this happens, other than when your battery-powered golf cart, aerial platform, forklift or floor cleaning machine slows down and stops operating. While deep-cycle batteries do often go beyond their advertised lifespan, they will eventually lose performance. A single tired battery in a battery pack can bring down the overall performance, so finding which battery is the culprit is vital to restoring the full potential of your vehicle.

Fully Charge the Battery Pack

Begin your diagnosis by completely charging the battery pack and checking each battery’s specific gravity readings with a hydrometer. Healthy batteries should have similar specific gravity readings in all cells.  If a battery has one or more cells with low specific gravity readings, it may be getting weak and nearing failure.  If all the batteries have low specific gravity readings, try performing an equalization charge.  If the specific gravity readings continue to increase with equalization charging, the problem may be the charger or the charging methods and not the batteries.  Equalization charging should be performed monthly on healthy batteries and more frequently if continuous undercharging is detected.

Perform a Full Discharge

After charging the batteries and the specific gravity readings indicate that all the batteries are fully charged, perform a discharge as the car would normally be used over the course of a day.  If the runtime is significantly shorter than normal, there may still be a weak battery in the pack.  Check the battery voltages and specific gravity readings and confirm that all connections are clean and tight.  If one battery is significantly lower than the rest, mark that battery as a suspect. If no low battery is found, use a load tester to perform a timed load test.  Battery packs that give less than 50% of the rated runtime are usually considered to be no longer serviceable.

Measure Voltage

Using a multimeter, measure the voltage at the end of the discharge test to locate a potentially bad battery. The one with a significantly lower voltage than the rest of the pack at the end of discharge is usually the culprit.  If all the batteries have low voltage and low runtime and your hydrometer readings on all the batteries don’t single out a bad battery or cell, then the entire battery pack may be at the end of its service life.

Replacing One Or More Batteries

If a bad battery is identified, it may not be necessary to replace the entire pack.  Battery manufacturers suggest that it is acceptable to replace one battery in the pack with a new one if it is under six months old.  If the battery is over six months old, it’s usually best to replace it with another battery from your fleet that has a date within six months of the rest of the pack or replace the entire pack.

For more information on deep-cycle batteries, run-time ratings, and maintenance tips to keep golf car batteries running longer, visit www.usbattery.com.

U.S. Dept. Of Energy Supports Study For Lead Battery EV Charging Stations In Missouri

Funding provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program is supporting plans and research investigating advanced lead battery energy storage alongside EV charging points in gas stations in the state of Missouri.

According to the Battery Council International, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) is in charge of the feasibility study and is preparing to try the lead-acid battery charging stations in at least two locations. “This project aims to demonstrate how advanced lead battery energy storage, linked to EV charging stations, can help manage electricity demand fluctuations and store electricity when it is less costly, before supplying it at a time when electric car drivers need to charge their vehicles,” says CBI Director Dr. Alistair Davidson. “It highlights the important role lead batteries can play in assisting governments around the world to roll-out charging infrastructure and meet energy needs.”

The CBI reports that detailed plans will identify potential funding sources to fully develop each site, which can then be used as a model for future lead battery-supported EV charging stations across the state. CBI aims to establish demonstration sites in the fall of 2019.

Replacement Deep-Cycle Batteries For Vertical Lifts 

Battery-powered vertical lifts are becoming increasingly popular with construction crews, as they are more compact, easily maneuverable, and provide a higher degree of safety than traditional ladders and scaffolding. 

To ensure reliable operation, it’s important for crews and rental facilities to utilize the proper deep-cycle batteries that power them. Some companies like Skyjack, JLG, Snorkel, and others, come equipped with four of our 6V flooded lead-acid batteries that feature quick fill caps that allow for easy inspection and water replenishing.  Over several years of operation, vertical lift manufacturers recommend utilizing the same type of replacement batteries to ensure proper operation. 

Deep Cycle BatteryModels such as Skyjack’s popular SJ12 feature U.S. Battery model US2200 XC2 6V deep-cycle batteries that provide a 232 amp-hour rating at a 20-hour rate, that is also designed to provide the highest rated capacity and fastest time to cycle up to rated capacity than any other deep-cycle battery in its class. These batteries also feature U.S. Battery’s SpeedCap design, making it easy to check water levels and to conduct routine maintenance, which includes checking water levels and topping off each cell to the battery manufacturer’s recommended levels as needed. 

Proper maintenance also includes visual inspections that require looking for clean terminals and wiring, then making repairs as necessary. Performing regular equalization charges at least once per month is also an important part of a proper maintenance routine that can prevent stratification and extend the service life of your batteries.

In addition to getting the right replacement batteries, the depth of discharge and regular maintenance are also key to making your vertical lift’s batteries last longer. Starting with a higher quality battery, such as what the vertical mast originally was equipped with, is a good start. It’s best to follow-up with ensuring that the batteries are limited to being discharged at no less than 50-percent. A 50-percent Depth Of Discharge (DOD), can be determined by first applying a full charge to the batteries, and the run time increases, regularly check the state of charge with a simple hydrometer. Battery manufacturers typically have a specific gravity chart that shows what the hydrometer will read at full charge, and also identify when it reaches various percentages of discharge. Periodically checking the hydrometer readings will give you a good idea of how much run-time the batteries can operate before reaching 50-percent discharge. Charging the batteries at this level, or before 50-percent DOD, will greatly promote longer service life.

With the right set of replacement batteries and routine maintenance, many construction crews and equipment rental facilities report that they have averaged five to seven years out of their batteries.