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.

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.

Deep-Cycle Replacement Batteries For Golf Carts and EV’s

Running out of power is never an option when you’re driving your golf cart or Electric Vehicle around town or the neighborhood. When you’re diligent about charging and adding water, there is a time when deep-cycle batteries reach the end of their lifespan and begin to lose performance. When this happens, it’s important to make sure you select the right replacement batteries for your particular application and use.

Which Battery Is Right For You?

Battery selection is key to the longevity of its performance in your vehicle. Going for the lowest cost battery isn’t always the answer, as it may not provide the longevity you need, while the most expensive battery may be out of your budget and still not provide the best option for how you use your vehicle.

The place to start is to first refer to your golf cart or EV’s manufacturer’s specifications. These can be different depending on the manufacturer. For example, Polaris EV’s, Columbia Par Car, Moke, and other popular vehicles all use a 48-volt electric engine but have different amperage and power requirements depending on the use and accessories on the vehicle.

For example, a Columbia Journeyman is a popular golf cart that is used in gated communities and is also made to be street legal for everyday use. While the vehicle uses six deep-cycle, 8-volt batteries, the proper battery model selection will depend on if 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 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.

Making Deep-Cycle Batteries Last Longer

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 cleaning machines download U.S. Battery’s Golf and Utility Vehicle Battery Flyer to see all of the models, sizes, and specifications available to fit your particular vehicle.

Checklist For Charging Deep-Cycle Batteries

When it seems like your deep-cycle batteries aren’t operating at full capacity, it may be that they’re not getting a full charge. Undercharging deep-cycle batteries is a common occurrence, especially when they are constantly being used and there’s a rush to get them back in use before they are fully charged. To ensure your batteries are getting a full-charge every time, follow this checklist of procedures from battery manufacturers that can ensure your deep-cycle batteries are getting a full charge.

Before starting you’ll need to make sure the vehicle the batteries are installed in is off, and that you are working in a well ventilated area and with proper safety equipment such as goggles and gloves. Have a hydrometer handy so you can measure the battery’s state of charge, which is a simple but very effective way to verify your batteries are at full charge.

1) Always charge your batteries as soon as possible and try to limit the depth of discharge to 50 percent to maximize battery life. If you can’t keep track of the depth of discharge, you can’t go wrong by always charging the batteries after every use.

2) Connect the charger to the battery or battery pack and allow it to go through a complete charge cycle until it shuts off.

3) Check the state-of-charge (SOC) of the battery pack by using a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity readings. A fully charged battery usually has a specific gravity reading close to 1.275, but check with the battery manufacturer for this specific full charge reading.

4) If the charger turns off before the batteries are fully charged, unplug and restart the charger.  If it continues to turn off before the batteries are fully charged, consult the vehicle and/or charger manufacturer for corrective actions. 

5) If the charger is working properly, it’s always a good idea to perform an equalizing charge at least once a month. This will cause the electrolyte to gas (bubble) and reduce the chance of stratification, which can lower battery life.

6) Check the electrolyte levels on each battery after charging and add distilled water using a watering pitcher or with a single point watering system. Check with your battery manufacturer to determine the correct levels. These basic steps will ensure your batteries are getting the maximum performance and life. It is important to also regularly check your charger to make sure it’s working properly, and keep it stored in an area where it won’t get damaged. To find additional resources on charger diagnostics, battery maintenance and ways to increase battery efficiency and service life, visit U.S. Battery’s website at www.usbattery.com.  

Deep Cycle Battery

Making Your Golf Cart Batteries Last Longer

Nobody likes having to replace a set of 6-volt or 8-volt golf cart batteries every few years, especially if you think you’ve maintained them by frequently charging and watering. So what went wrong? There’s more to making your batteries last longer than simple routine maintenance. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President/Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, there are three key factors that maximize battery life.

The first is starting with a better battery. If you’ve always shopped for the less expensive battery, you’re sacrificing capacity and extended operation. Premium batteries cost a little more initially, but simply put, they have more lead plates and better internal construction. This is one of the major factors in battery longevity and with the benefit of greater capacity for longer run times between charging.

A better battery will also help with the second factor towards extending battery life, which is the amount of discharge placed on the batteries. Battery manufacturers recommend limiting the discharge rate to 50-percent for optimum battery cycle life. 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 manufactures 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 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.

The third factor is one you’re probably already doing, proper maintenance. This includes checking water levels and topping off each cell to the battery manufacturer’s recommended levels as needed. It 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 shorten battery life.

Does this really work? The best examples come from new and used golf car dealers who are seeing the benefits of providing training for their customers on these important factors, as well as proper maintenance procedures. Many report that they have had customers get an average of five to seven years out of their batteries, which can dramatically reduce the cost of owning and operating a battery powered golf car over the long haul. For more information on battery maintenance and selecting the right battery for a variety of applications, visit www.usbattery.com.

Why Only Distilled Water Should Go Into Your Deep-Cycle Battery

Electric vehicles that run on one or more deep-cycle batteries require watering after the batteries have undergone a full charge. According to engineers at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, a global leader in deep-cycle batteries, water is lost from battery cells by evaporation. This happens during various instances such as, the heat that occurs during the charging process, heat from weather conditions, and during equalization charging, where the electrolyte in the battery bubbles to mix the electrolyte and prevent stratification (sulphuric acid settling at the bottom of the cells) which can diminish performance. 

Checking water levels periodically maintains the health of the battery cells and according to battery manufacturers, adding the right kind of water will aid in that process. Battery manufacturers such as U.S. Battery recommend using distilled water. 

Using ordinary tap water or softened water is bad for your deep-cycle batteries, as the minerals found in the water can react with the electrolyte and minimize performance and increase sediments 

Battery manufacturers recommend checking water levels frequently, usually after charging. When filling, it’s important to use proper safety gear such as latex gloves and eye protection. Manufacturers also emphasize that it’s important to fill battery cells only with enough water to cover the cell plates, but not to overfill, as the electrolyte expands with heat and overflow. To avoid splashing or overfilling, it’s recommended to use a hand pump or battery pitcher to fill each battery cell.

Adding the right kind and amount of water in your deep-cycle battery’s cells, will ultimately keep them in top shape and extend the life and performance. For more information, visit www.usbattery.com

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.