For many business owners making an effort to go “green” can be an expensive process, requiring investments in new equipment and infrastructure. But if a company decides to be more environmentally conscious by investing in battery-powered machines and vehicles, it may also prove to be a cost-effective choice. While switching to battery power reduces the need for plug-in electricity and combustible fuels for power, there’s also the added benefit of lower overall operating costs.
Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are the most cost-effective form of power for these types of machinery and vehicles. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP of Engineering at U.S. Battery, lead-acid batteries provide more energy per cycle at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour than any other type of battery chemistry. That means that the use of lead batteries can translate to lower operating costs over time. It gives companies using them a greater incentive, knowing that the operating costs would absorb any up-front expenses.
In addition to lower costs, there are other environmental advantages. Perhaps the most important is that deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are a sustainable source of energy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes lead batteries as the most recycled consumer product in the nation. The foundation for this has been the lead-acid battery industry’s ability to create a model recycling program, one in which essentially 100 percent of them are recycled. It prevents millions of used lead-acid batteries from reaching landfills, as it is a problem currently happening with other battery chemistries.
So the question that commonly arises is, if switching to battery power is environmentally better and more cost-effective, how can various industries and rental companies make the most out of their battery-powered machines and vehicles? The answer, according to Wehmeyer, is to make sure you start with a battery that is rated for the optimum power requirements of the application and the type of cleaning machine. Selecting the correct battery further minimizes the upfront costs of going “green” in this manner and helps to extend service life for continued low operational costs.
Batteries come with various capacity ratings, so Wehmeyer recommends starting with one that matches the duty cycle of the vehicle or machinery will require. Purchasing a battery with too little capacity will shorten overall battery life and increase annual operating costs because you will have to replace them more often. On the other hand, selecting a battery with more capacity than needed will add to the initial purchase cost without necessarily increasing battery life. Also, Wehmeyer reminds us that deep-cycle battery cycle-life ratings are not always compared using the same basis by different manufacturers. Typically, cycle life comparisons are based on the depth of discharge (%DOD) using the C20 capacity as a baseline.
To truly take advantage of the benefits of going “green” with deep-cycle battery power, it’s also essential to perform a routine maintenance schedule. This routine should include checking water levels and filling as necessary, performing a monthly equalization charge, and minimizing the total DOD to 50 percent or less during each use. Doing these things will dramatically increase battery life and ultimately lower operational costs that will make your investment pay off in the end.
Looking at how batteries play an integral part in being environmentally friendly, it’s easy to see why many industries have continued to utilize flooded lead-acid batteries to power everything from fleets of golf cars and floor cleaning machines to aerial lifts and more. In addition to reducing annual operating costs, industries and individuals embracing battery power are also doing their part to help the economy and the environment.