Consistent Battery Maintenance Is Key To Longevity And Performance

There’s something to be said about due diligence, especially when it comes to your golf car’s batteries. While many individuals and golf courses are content with simply charging batteries overnight, and checking water levels whenever they get around to it, others conform to a strict maintenance schedule that ultimately prevents numerous conditions that can lead to poor performance and ultimately, battery failure.

Run It Till It Dies

The downtime while your batteries are charging is often inconvenient and some golf car owners run the car until it’s nearly out of power or dead altogether. Batteries that experience frequent deep discharges (discharges of more than 50-percent of a battery’s rated capacity) will have dramatically shorter life than batteries with lower depth of discharge (DOD). The use of ‘opportunity charging’ or charging at every opportunity instead of waiting to recharge until batteries are fully discharged will dramatically increase battery life. (This should not take the place of fully charging regularly.)  If you need longer runtime between charges, consider switching to batteries with higher amp-hour capacity.  This may require switching to a different type of battery with a lower voltage per monoblock but higher capacity.

For example, a golf car with a 48-volt battery pack can use four 12-volt batteries, six 8-volt batteries or eight 6-volt batteries (if space is available).  While all provide the same 48-volt pack voltage, the eight 6-volt batteries provide the highest capacity and runtime. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, a battery that is routinely discharged to 40% DOD will last about 2.2 times longer than a battery that is discharged to 80% DOD. The initial cost for eight 6-volt batteries is higher than four 12-volt batteries; but considering how much longer they will last, the return on investment is much greater.

Water Whenever

Failing to consistently check water levels and add water to your batteries can also result in low capacity and eventual battery failure if left unchecked. Watering flooded lead-acid batteries is one of the most basic and important maintenance procedures. During battery charging, gases evolved from the decomposition of water results in water loss. This lost water must be replaced by regular water addition.  The rate of water loss can be even higher at elevated temperature and water levels must be checked more frequently. If water is not replaced regularly, the tops of the battery plates in each cell can become exposed to air and damaged to the point that capacity is reduced and battery life is shortened.  Electrolyte levels should always be maintained above the top of the plates by adding water before charging and after charging to about 1/8-inch below the bottom of the vent wells.  Final watering should be done after charging to prevent electrolyte overflow.

If you really hate watering batteries, consider a Single Point Watering System and a battery watering monitor. These often come in kits that are pre-made for specific golf cars and/or battery packs. Monitors such as U.S. Battery’s Sense Smart Valve works with SPWS systems and indicates via a dash or battery mounted LED when the batteries need water.

Summer’s Over; Park It Till Next Year

Improper battery storage is, unfortunately,  a common practice with resorts and RV owners. Storing your golf car with the battery pack in a discharged condition for a long period of time can lead to sulfation (a condition that leads to the development of large lead sulfate crystals that reduce the battery’s available capacity). Over time, this sulfation can reduce both the full charge capacity and overall life of the battery.

The battery pack should always be fully charged before the vehicle is put into long-term storage. In winter months, this also prevents the batteries from freezing. Maintaining the batteries at full charge will keep your batteries in good condition until the next time you use them.

Battery Powered Floor Cleaning Machines Need Clean Power Cables

Frayed or corroded battery cables and terminals may be the cause of poor performance on many battery powered cleaning machines. Here’s what to do.

One of the leading causes of poor performance from battery powered floor cleaning machines is corroded or damaged battery cables. Working under harsh conditions where exposure to moisture, heat, and wear, your cleaning machine’s battery cables, and battery terminals can become less conductive. In addition, poor connectivity can also be a result of over tightening, and constant vibrations. Therefore, it’s often best to check the condition of the cables every-time you perform routine maintenance on your vehicle’s batteries.

Topping the list for poor battery cable connectivity is over-tightening of the battery terminals. Battery posts are made from lead which can crack and break if the hardware connecting the cables to the posts are over tightened beyond the recommended torque specifications. If your cleaning vehicle’s batteries have been recently replaced or removed for any kind of maintenance, make sure the cables are attached using the specified torque recommendations from the battery manufacturer. Here’s an example of a battery data sheet indicating proper torque for one of U.S. Battery Manufacturing’s popular batteries for cleaning machines. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 9.20.15 AMCorroded cable connectors and terminals are another reason why your floor cleaning machine’s performance may be limited. The terminals and connectors can be easily cleaned by first spraying them with a solution of baking soda and water. Remove the cables from the battery terminals and use a small stainless steel brush with a wooden or plastic handle (to avoid any potential of arching). Gently clean the terminals and cable connectors before re-attaching them.

Improper connector assemblies can also be hindering your vehicle’s performance. Some cable connectors are crimped to the cable end, which can create a point of high resistance. If you notice some melting of the cable sleeve around that area, switch to a cable that has a mechanical connection (bolt attachment) or ones that are soldered together.

Undersized cables can also cause problems if they are not large enough to handle the vehicle’s amperage loads. If your cables are old and need replacing, check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that you’re using the correct gauge cables. The correct sized cable allows maximum flow of amperage from the battery to the motor and will also avoid meltdowns of the cables and terminals under heavy use.

How Excessive Heat Will Affect Your Deep-Cycle Batteries

Battery powered vehicles are becoming more popular in a variety of industries, and where temperatures fluctuate drastically, it’s important to know how to properly maintain deep-cycle batteries in these conditions.

During summer months, some parts of the country can experience extreme heatwaves where temperatures soar into the triple digits. This affects the performance of batteries to a point where precautions should be taken.

Flooded Lead-Acid batteries often need watering, so during extreme heat conditions, it’s important to check water levels more frequently.  It’s essential to fill each battery cell with water so that the electrolyte is just below the vent tube, but covers the cell plates entirely.

Because of the chemical make-up of deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries, they will charge and discharge at different rates, depending on the ambient temperatures. This sometimes leads to overcharging during excessive heat conditions, where specific gravity readings, (done with a hydrometer) may show that the battery is not fully charged when it actually is.

For every 10-degrees F (7-degrees C)  above an ambient temperature of 80-degrees F,(72-degrees C) you must add 0.004 (0.005 for Celsius readings) to your hydrometer reading to get the proper state of charge of the battery.  In doing so, you might notice that the deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries in your equipment or vehicle may charge faster in excessive heat conditions than they do in colder temperatures.

Checking water levels and preventing overcharging by checking the battery’s state of charge and applying the temperature correction factor will definitely keep your batteries in top shape during excessive heat conditions. Your batteries will also perform better and last longer, lowering your annual operating costs which can be a dramatic saving for fleets with battery-powered vehicles.

 

Battery Maintenance Safety Tips

Performing maintenance on flooded lead-acid batteries is simple, but one should always think about safety first. 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:

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.

2) Eliminate sources of sparks or flames. Charging lead-acid batteries produce 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.

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.

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

 

Hate Watering Your Batteries? There’s An Easier Way

Single Point Watering Systems Make Watering Batteries Safe And Easy

Monitoring the level of electrolyte in your Flooded Lead Acid batteries is one of the necessary maintenance procedures to keep your batteries working properly, and extend their service life. While it sounds like a simple process, it can be very time consuming and cumbersome. Checking the water level in four or six batteries in a vehicle often requires removing the vent caps on each battery and visually inspecting the water level. In many cases, that can be difficult depending on where the batteries are located in the vehicle. If they’re difficult to reach, it can also add difficulty in adding the right amount of water, as overfilling can also cause problems, as well as not adding enough water too.

One of the ways to make the process much easier is investing in a Single Point Watering System (SPWS).  These systems allow you to add water to all of your vehicle’s batteries at one time, from a single water tube that is easily accessible. In addition, SPWS units also stop the flow of water, once it reaches the proper level within each of the battery cells. For battery powered vehicles with difficult access to the battery compartment, this makes battery maintenance much easier, and can ultimately extend the life of the batteries which can save you money in the long run.

Sense Smart ValveGoing one step further, SPWS manufacturers also have sensors available, that can be used with your watering system to monitor water levels in the battery pack and indicate when the batteries need watering. Manufacturers such as Flow-Rite and BWT have complete systems that are easy to install, and consist of valve caps that replace the factory units and allow water to be poured into each cell via a network of hoses. Most systems are also available pre-assembled for your particular application, and do-it-yourself systems are also available for custom applications.

It’s also good to point out that SPWS usually last a long time with proper care, and with constant monitoring, you’ll never need to spend too much time out of your weekend checking and watering your vehicle’s batteries again. For more information on a variety of single point watering systems for flooded lead-acid batteries, and sample installations, visit www.usbattery.com.

Replacement Batteries For Floor Cleaning Machines

Maintenance crews are often on a strict schedule, so it’s vital that battery powered floor cleaning machines perform reliably and maintain full power throughout your cleaning schedule. This is one of the reasons why selecting the correct batteries for floor cleaning machines can be confusing. The least expensive batteries may not provide enough longevity, while the most expensive may hurt the bottom line of your company’s operating costs. There are some methods, however, to ensure you get the right balance between reliability and cost.

Choosing The Right Battery

When selecting a replacement battery it is important to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications.  These can be different for various floor machines such as Tennant, Nilfisk Advance, Factory Cat, Global Industrial, PowerBoss, Karcher, Minuteman International, and others.

As an example, the Nilfisk Grey Line Sweeper Scrubber SR models, run on a 24V system. Units like the SC1500 requires four, 6V 200 amp-hour batteries. U.S. Battery’s  US 2000 XC2 or US 2200 XC2 are ideal for these power requirements. The Nilfisk SC600, however, runs on the same voltage system but requires four 255 amp-hour, 6V batteries. U.S. Battery’s US 250 XC2 would provide the best solution for these modes. In all, these examples, these batteries provide a great balance between cost and long-lasting performance.

Maintaining Batteries For Longer Life

To get the most performance from your batteries, it’s also important to commit to a regular maintenance regimen such as:

  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 Care & Maintenance 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 cleaning machines download U.S. Battery’s Sweeper Scrubber Battery flyer to see all of the models, sizes, and specifications available to fit your particular vehicle.

 

Keep The Batteries In Your Golf Car During Winter Storage

Golf car owners often develop their methods of battery maintenance from talking to other golf car owners. The problem is that not all of these methods are always correct and can lead to poor battery performance. According to one U.S. Battery dealer, Jim Naughton Sr. at Jim’s Cart N Parts in Milton, Wisconsin, he’s heard many stories of battery maintenance, especially from elderly customers from retirement communities.

Cart N Parts is a large dealer of new and used golf cars and is located in an area where there are lots of retirement communities where the elderly use golf cars to get around. During the winter months, one consistent maintenance myth he hears is to remove the batteries from the golf car when it’s in storage. “Some people think they need to take out the batteries, not realizing that the golf car can help shield the batteries from the cold,” says Naughton.

According to Naughton and engineers at U.S. Battery, to properly store a golf car away for the winter, keep the batteries in the vehicle and fully charge them. This will help prevent the electrolyte from expanding in freezing temperatures, which can damage the batteries. Most new chargers have a charging maintenance feature, allowing the charger to remain plugged in all winter to keep batteries fully charged until the spring. Following these tips, with regular maintenance, will allow your golf car batteries to provide optimum performance and extend their life. For more information and safety tips on battery maintenance, visit www.usbattery.com.

Proof Proper Maintenance Adds Years To Golf Car Batteries

In many retirement communities, electric golf cars are the major form of transportation. For one dealer, Jim’s Carts N Parts in Milton, Wisconsin, they train customers in performing proper maintenance procedures on the golf car batteries within the vehicles they sell.  While other golf car dealers hand out pamphlets on battery maintenance, Jim Naughton Sr. takes the time to personally conduct classes for each customer before they take possession of a new or used golf car purchased from them.

The results of these efforts are demonstrated with this latest testimonial from the company, who came across a set of U.S. Battery US2200 XC2 batteries that were purchased new and installed on a customer’s golf car in June of 2012. The team at Jim’s Carts N Parts had purchased the vehicle as a trade-in for a newer model. Once they checked the condition of the batteries, which included a discharge test, it indicated that the batteries lasted 72 minutes on a charge and were still at maximum capacity after more than five years!

Proper battery maintenance for flooded lead-acid batteries is simple and can be checked with an inexpensive hydrometer. More information and tips on proper battery maintenance and using a hydrometer to test a battery’s state of charge, are available at www.usbattery.com.

 

Is Your Floor Cleaning Machine Undercharged?

Ninety percent of the problems maintenance crews have with their battery powered floor cleaning machines, is that they run out of power before they have time to finish the job. This is due to improper charging, where the batteries are not given enough time to reach full capacity and are starting the work day in an undercharged condition. If this is a constant problem, it can eventually lead to batteries that go bad before they need to, and this can be a costly addition to battery replacement costs.

There’s an easy way to find out the battery’s state-of-charge (SOC) with a simple hydrometer.  First, make sure your floor cleaning machine is equipped with the correct deep-cycle batteries for that application. Using the hydrometer requires gloves, safety glasses and should be done in a well-ventilated area. Measuring the SOC of each battery cell and comparing hydrometer specific gravity readings to the specifications found on the battery manufacturer’s website, you’ll be able to determine if the battery is charged or undercharged. If it’s undercharged it’s imperative to give the batteries additional charging times. If the cleaning machines are always in use, try to find times to give them additional charge time during lunch breaks, or when workers may not be using the machines. This will ultimately extend battery life and increase the run times of the machines and add to productivity.

If, however, the batteries are charged for a long period of time and never seem to become fully charged, it can be an indication of other problems in the battery, or with your charger’s algorithms. Check with the battery manufacturer is these problems persist. For more information and tips to improve battery maintenance visit www.usbattery.com.

Checking Electrolyte Levels On Deep Cycle Batteries

Deep Cycle batteries are designed to be constantly charged and discharged to provide optimum power. The result from this constant “cycling” is that some of the electrolyte evaporates, and over time, the electrolyte levels in the battery drops.

To maintain battery performance and reliability, it’s very important to check the water levels in the battery on a monthly basis. To do this, wear eye protection and gloves before removing the vent caps on the batteries. Check with the battery manufacturer to see how to remove the vent caps, (they usually pull or twist off). Start with one cell at a time.

Get a small flashlight and look into the vent. You will see the cell plates in the electrolyte. The level of the electrolyte should be enough so that the cell plates are submerged. Some battery manufacturers recommend the water level be 1/4 inch below the fill well. That’s approximately enough to cover the battery plates, but not enough to touch the bottom of the vent. For more information on deep-cycle battery maintenance and tips on how to improve battery performance and life, visit www.usbattery.com