Maintaining Solar Deep-Cycle Batteries During Self Quarantine and Stay-At-Home Orders

With stay-at-home orders in place in many states, homes utilizing deep-cycle batteries for power could be increasingly straining their systems. As more people stay home, more appliances and electrical accessories that would typically be off during the day will be used. Add to that the fact that storms could reduce the amount of energy being generated by solar panels.

To avoid putting additional strain on your battery storage system, there are several ways you can keep deep-cycle batteries in good working order.

1) Minimize your battery-packs depth-of-discharge (DOD) to no more than 50 percent. Draining past 50 percent DOD will ultimately shorten the lifespan of your battery pack. If possible, schedule times during the day when certain non-essential items can be turned off. This will help minimize the total discharge.

2) If your home is plugged into the electrical grid. Use this opportunity to charge your deep-cycle battery pack to keep them from discharging below 50 percent.

3) Perform an equalization charge. Equalization charging prevents the build-up of sulfates on the battery plates that can reduce capacity. The batteries should be fully charged before any equalization charge is added.

4) Check water levels on flooded lead-acid deep-cycle batteries. Make sure the batteries are fully charged first, then add water as necessary to fill each cell, ensuring the plates are fully submerged.

5) Keep your battery area clean and check for corrosion and proper battery connections. Check the cables to ensure they are tight. Remove any corrosion with a mixture of water and baking soda.

6) Double-check charging rates during cold temperatures. Flooded lead-acid batteries charge and discharge differently in cold and hot temperatures. During winter months, it may take longer for batteries to recharge. The best way to ensure the batteries are fully charged and not dipping below 50-percent DOD is to use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of each battery cell.

Battery manufacturers recommend using a simple correction factor to your hydrometer’s readings. Using 80-degrees as your baseline, subtract (.004) from your hydrometer reading for every 10-degrees below 80 °F (5.6-degrees below 27 °C). For example, if the temperature of the electrolyte is 50 °F and your battery specific gravity reading is 1.200, you must subtract .012 from your measurement. In this case, .004 for every 10-degrees equals .012. Subtract this from 1.200, and your corrected specific gravity reading is 1.188.

Paying closer attention to your renewable energy system’s deep-cycle batteries will ensure they will remain reliable and get you through what could be several weeks or months of having to stay indoors during this outbreak.

Group 27 & 31 Batteries and Floor Cleaning Machines

Group 27 & 31 Batteries Designed for Floor Your Cleaning Machines

Maintaining clean facilities has become more critical than ever. To reduce the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, reliable power for floor cleaning machines is playing an essential role in a Facility Manager’s cleaning regimen.

Many battery-operated floor cleaning. machines utilize BCI group 27 & 31 batteries. Typically, group size 27 and 31 batteries are referred to as “Hybrid.” This is due to the way they are constructed (generally designed for lighter cycling duties such as marine and RV applications). While “hybrid” type batteries are designed to have more deep cycle capability, than Starting batteries, they do not perform as well over time. “Hybrid” type batteries cannot cycle at the same performance levels and are unable to produce as many cycle lives as a true deep cycle battery.

The US Battery team, in consultation with some of our industry partners, came to the conclusion that if we were going to be a player in this market that we needed to have batteries that could provide our customers with a quality product that is also a better value. So, we set out to build a better option. We worked from the ground up and developed our “DC” line of batteries, which includes the US 27DC XC2, and the US 31DC XC2 specifically for use in high-energy consuming cleaning equipment.

When comparing to the “Hybrid” types available on the market, hybrids generally can provide approximately 150-170 cycles when discharged down to 1.75 volts per cell. Our DC line, by comparison, typically supplies about 500 cycles. This is a considerable improvement, and while slightly more expensive than a hybrid, the value to the end-user is substantially improved.

Today our DC line of batteries are used in many floor cleaning machines; because of their reliability and long life. Operators of Nilfisk, Minuteman International, and Power-Flite floor machines often find them powering their equipment. To see all of our cleaning deep cycle batteries please see the Floor Machine application page.

Renewable Energy Storage Options: AGM vs FLA Batteries

Energy-conscious businesses and homeowners who are looking to store energy from their wind or solar energy systems, often consider the differences between using a no-maintenance AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and an FLA (Flooded Lead-Acid) deep-cycle batteries. While each type of battery has its advantages, here are some facts that can help you make the right decision for your particular application.

 

Higher Cost, Lower Maintenance

 

If you want a low maintenance renewable energy system’s battery bank, a set of AGM batteries are the ideal choice. Deep-cycle models can be successfully used for energy storage. Because they are sealed and featured glass matt separators that retain all of the electrolyte without water, there’s no need to periodically add water.

 

The drawback, according to U.S. Battery Senior VP of Engineering Fred Wehmeyer, is the cost. “AGM batteries typically cost from 25 to 50 percent more per watt-hour compared to FLA batteries,” says Wehmeyer. “Besides, AGM batteries may also not last as long as premium FLA batteries used in these types of applications.”

 

Lower Cost, Higher Maintenance

 

When lower total operating costs are the goal, FLA batteries offer the lowest cost per watt-hour than any other type of battery storage system available. According to Wehmeyer, deep-cycle FLA batteries are robust and have been used very successfully for energy storage for several decades. “Less expensive than AGM batteries, FLA batteries offer the best cost per watt-hour than any other energy storage method available,” says Wehmeyer.

 

If you’re not opposed to routine maintenance, Wehmeyer adds that premium FLA batteries (those with higher lead content) will last longer than AGM batteries. Because FLA batteries lose water from evaporation during charging, they need to be regularly replenished, as well as cleaning and checking the terminals. Wehmeyer also recommends to occasionally performing an equalization charge on FLA battery banks used for energy storage. “Equalization charging is extremely important to optimize the life of renewable energy batteries,” he says. “It is used to both balance the individual cells in a battery pack and to mix the electrolyte through gassing to prevent electrolyte stratification.”

 

Gaining Optimum Performance From Both

 

No matter what type of batteries you choose for your renewable energy storage, deep-cycle batteries work best when the depth of discharge of your battery bank is kept to 50-percent. “For best performance and longest life, the batteries should be fully recharged regularly,” says Wehmeyer. “Depending on the source of recharge provided (solar, wind, generator, or AC power), full charging may not always be possible every day. Most batteries can operate efficiently in a partial state of charge condition as long a full charge is done at least every 30 days.”

White golf club car.

Replacement Batteries For Club Car Golf Carts

Club Car golf carts have been around for nearly 60-years, producing a variety of battery-powered golf cars, utility, and personal use vehicles. As most owners of these vehicles know, proper battery maintenance is key to longevity and reliability, but eventually, the batteries will need to be replaced. 

 

When it comes time to get a new set of deep-cycle batteries for your Club Car, it’s important to make sure you select the right ones for your particular application, and most importantly, the type of use it will see. Club Car’s battery specifications are different for the various model vehicles they produce. Most utilize a 48-volt electric engine but depending on the model, have different amperage and power requirements.

 

As an example, Club Car DS and Precedent models (2in1, 2Plus2, Cargo, Professional), XF (2in1, 2Plus2) and XF Cargo models take six BCI Group Size GC8 eight-volt batteries. Choosing the right one depends on if you use the vehicle daily or if it says in storage at your vacation home. For each of these types of scenarios, there are different battery ratings to choose from that might better match your usage needs. U.S. Battery’s US 8VGC XC2 (with a 20-hour rate of 170) is a great choice for those who want a longer-lasting battery for this application. The US 8VGCE XC2 (with a 20-hour rate of 155) offers less overall runtime for applications where the vehicle won’t be used daily, offering a more cost-effective solution.

 

Club Car Precedent Champion models also use a 48-volt system but utilize four BCI Group Size GC12, 12-volt batteries. U.S. Battery’s 12VRX XC2 (20-hour rate of 155) provides a great compromise between daily and occasional use. 

 

Proper Maintenance Makes The Difference 

 

To get the most performance from your new battery, you must develop a regular maintenance schedule that consists of:

 

1. Checking and replenishing the electrolyte levels. Installing a BWT or Flow-Rite single-point-watering kit can make this an easy and quick process.

2. Performing an equalization charge

3. Checking and Cleaning battery terminals and connections

4. Performing an opportunity charge when possible

 

For a full list of proper Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance procedures please see our page or download our Care & Maintenance brochure.

 

U.S. Battery Deep Cycle batteries are handcrafted in the U.S.A. The batteries also feature our exclusive XC2 formulation that gives them the highest initial capacity, fastest cycle-up time to full-rated capacity, improved recharge-ability, and the highest total energy delivered than any battery in their class. For a complete list of Flooded Lead-Acid or AGM batteries for golf cars and utility vehicles visit U.S. Battery’s Golf and Utility Vehicle Battery page to see all of the models, sizes, and specifications available to fit your particular vehicle.