US L16HC XC2 Deep Cycle Battery

A Solar Energy Battery Storage Bank Made To Last 16 Years

Low Amperage Draw And Impeccable Maintenance Kept A Battery Energy Storage Bank Operable For More Than A Decade

Grover, Wyoming resident Jody Jenson, isn’t living “off-grid,” but his home is in a rural part of the state, where water comes from a well and delivered to the home by electric pumps. After several power outages, he didn’t want to rely on the city’s power grid to have fresh water, so he built a 48-volt solar system with U.S. Battery Deep-Cycle batteries for energy storage that have provided 16-years or reliable service.  “I did not like the vulnerability of relying on the grid for our drinking water,” said Jenson. “I spent over $12,000 on this system, including digging a new 100-ft. well. It definitely wasn’t to reduce costs, but more about having freshwater availability.”

To supply power to the pump system Jenson utilizes four 120-watt solar panels mounted together and wired to provide 24-volts and is connected to a circuit breaker and charge controller.  To store energy, he uses eight US L16HC XC2 batteries. “The system powers the well-pump that draws 4-amps, depending on groundwater level, but it’s pretty consistent,” he says. “It takes about 18-hours to fill the 1200 gallon cistern. The system normally runs about 12-hours between low and full tank levels.  From the cistern, there’s another pressure pump that draws six amps for approximately three minutes after starting, providing roughly 30-gallons between cycles.”

 Even though the system doesn’t draw huge amounts of amperage, Jenson never expected that the US L16HC deep-cycle batteries would last 16-years. “When I bought them, I remember being told that with proper maintenance, they should last something like five years,” said Jensen. “I knew with care, they would last longer.”

Jenson has taken exceptionally good care of his deep-cycle batteries, demonstrating how cost-effective flooded lead-acid batteries can be with proper maintenance. His routine includes weekly and monthly procedures. “Every week I go to check the system, including the water level in the cistern, corrosion on the battery posts, charging rate,  and battery voltage,” he says. “The batteries are still showing 26.5-volts fully charged. Once a month, I also check battery water levels and the amperage draw of the two pumps. This gives me any clues as to any problems that might be occurring. Quarterly, I add distilled water to the 24 individual cells.” 

While most people would consider this an impeccable maintenance routine, Jenson also includes periodic equalizing charges. “After adding water, I equalize the bank of batteries with the charge controller for a period of two hours at a maximum of 16-amps,” says Jensen. “I have never equalized without the batteries being fully charged. I’ve totaled up all the water I have added over the years, and as of today, from February of 2003 to now, I’ve added 63-gallons of water to the 24-cells!”

In addition to Jensen’s unique system and maintenance procedures, U.S. Battery L16 HC deep-cycle batteries feature the company’s XC2 formulation that uses Diamond Plate technology, highly efficient synthetic tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) crystal structures that enhanced performance, charging, and extend battery life. U.S. Battery also manufactures a line of Renewable Energy Batteries that are specifically designed for energy storage and feature Defender Moss Shields that reduce mossing and sulfation conditions, and Outside Positive Plates that mitigate the effects of plate sulfation.

While receiving 16-years of service from a set of deep-cycle batteries is not common, Jenson’s theory of having a large battery bank with a relatively low amperage draw, does demonstrate what low depth-of discharge and proper maintenance procedures can do to extend the life of deep-cycle batteries used for energy storage.

Deep-Cycle Battery Tune-Up Tips

Aside from routinely adding water and charging your deep-cycle batteries, battery manufacturers recommend giving your batteries a tune-up. Simply put, this consists of a few methods to check the condition of the deep-cycle batteries and the associated components so that everything can continue to run perfectly.

Battery Terminals and Wires

1) Safety first. Always perform battery maintenance in a well ventilated area and wear eye protection and gloves.

2) Open the battery compartment of your deep-cycle battery-powered vehicle and check the wires and terminals connected to the battery. If corroded, clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize acid corrosion (easily done with a spray bottle). Remove the cables from the battery terminals and, using a wire brush with a plastic or wooden handle to prevent shorting, clean the terminals and wire connections down to the bright metal. Replace any wires that are frayed or broken.

3) Reconnect the cables to the battery terminals. The recommended terminal torque is 100-inch pounds or 15-18 pounds on the end of a six-inch wrench. Avoid using larger wrenches or power tools.  Lead terminals can easily be damaged by over-tightening.  The goal is to fully compress the split-ring lock washer but no more. Use insulated tools to prevent arching.

4) Once the terminals and cables are clean and connections are secure, use silicone spray or a corrosion inhibitor to prevent additional corrosion from forming.

Condition of the Batteries

1) Remove the vent caps on each of the deep-cycle batteries and check the electrolyte level in each cell. If some are low, refill with distilled water so that the plates are covered with at least ¼ inch of electrolyte before charging.  After charging top up to within a ¼ inch of split-ring level indicator.

2) Use a hydrometer to determine the state of charge for each battery. During winter storage, all of the batteries should have been stored in a fully charged state. Check the battery manufacturer’s recommendation for the fully charged specific gravity for each type of battery.

3) If the batteries are fully charged, the vehicle is ready to start service. If the batteries are not fully charged, connect the charger and let it run through a full charge cycle. After charging recheck the electrolyte level and use a hydrometer to verify the batteries are at full charge.

4) After the first 30-days of use, perform an equalization charge to balance the cells and to mix the electrolyte to  prevent stratification.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your deep-cycle batteries in your golf cart, aerial work platform, forklift or even your RV and boat, should be ready to go back to work. With regular maintenance, they will continue to run at optimum performance and last longer with lower annual operating costs. For more information on deep-cycle batteries for your particular application and maintenance tips, 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.

Selecting The Right Single Point Watering System

Watering batteries is a necessary maintenance procedure to keep flooded lead-acid batteries performing at their best. But for those that dread the procedure because the batteries are difficult to get to or if they require removing the batteries simply to peer into the cells and check the water level, there’s a much easier way.

Many people are familiar with Single Point Watering Systems (SPWS). These can be a time and labor saver that makes it much easier to add water to flooded lead-acid batteries. These systems simply replace the battery cell caps with small valves that allow water to pour into each cell when they need it, and shut off when the level is correct.

While the process sounds simple enough, the types and kinds of systems can be confusing. For battery manufacturers like U.S. Battery, one of the leading manufacturers of flooded lead-acid batteries in the United States, they are big promoters of using SPWS. For those not knowing which type of SPWS to get, they offer some guidelines to help to make the right decision.

The company works with two major SPWS manufacturers, Battery Watering Technologies (BWT) and Flow-Rite. Both systems are excellent in providing easy ways to keep batteries and battery packs watered correctly, but they differ in their construction. the BTW system utilizes flexible hoses that are easily attached to the battery or battery pack and can be used with a gravity-feed water tank or siphon hose to direct water into the batteries. The BWT system is perfect for tight compartments where reaching the batteries may be difficult but because of the flexible tubing, it can accommodate changes to your batteries and system. For example, if you had an SPWS on a 48-volt system that uses eight 6V batteries, the BWT system could easily be used on a system that was switched out to which could be changed later to using four 12V batteries.

The Flow-Rite system is similar in that it attaches to the batteries in the same way, but it uses more durable-harder water manifolds that are made for specific applications and the number of batteries used in that application. Converting from eight to four batteries would require a new system of hoses, but because the Flow-Rite hoses are more durable, they have the advantage of being able to withstand more abuse in rugged or high-vibration applications. For vehicles and machinery that have very tight compartments and limited space where changing battery types is not an option, the Flow-Rite system could be a good long-term solution.

View images of step by step installations of both systems here: https://usbattery.com/products/watering-systems/

Sense Smart ValveThe best system will depend on your specific application but both systems can also benefit from an electrolyte sensor, which will indicate when it’s time to add water to your batteries. U.S. Battery offers its Sense Smart Valve, which fits into one of the battery pack’s cells, and features a sensor that indicates via an LED light that changes from green to red if your battery pack needs water. Because the sensor is built into an SPWS valve, it works with BWT systems and also has an available dashboard mountable indicator.

No matter which type of system is best for your application, using an SPWS is definitely a much easier way to water batteries, and in doing so, you’ll also prolong the life and performance of your battery pack, which will save you money in the long run. For more information on SPWS systems and flooded lead-acid batteries for your particular application, visit www.usbattery.com.

 

Know Your Battery’s Water-Fill Level

Anyone who has a set of deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries knows that proper maintenance includes checking the water level in each cell, after a full charge. Although it’s easy to carefully add water to each cell, many people get confused as to how much water to add. Too little, and they’ll be having to add more sooner than is necessary. Too much and it runs the risk of overflowing when the batteries are charging.

care-maintenanceThe proper method recommended by most battery manufacturers is to add enough water so that the cell plates are completely submerged, but not so much that the water is up to the battery case cell cap vents. The proper fill level, according to battery manufacturers, is approximately 1/4-inch below the fill well bottom. (See photo example)

Battery manufacturers also recommend using only distilled or deionized water and to use a watering gun or pitcher to fill each battery cell. Ensuring your batteries are properly watered will add life and provide optimum performance from your deep-cycle batteries. For more information on battery maintenance, visit www.usbattery.com.

Keep Batteries At Full Charge During Winter

 

One of the most common mistakes during winter months is storing golf car batteries in a discharged state. A discharged battery in extremely cold temperatures will allow the electrolyte to freeze, causing it to expand. Electrolyte expansion can crack the battery case, causing a leak or complete battery failure. A fully charged battery has a freezing point around -80 °F while a discharged battery has a freezing point around 20 °F. By keeping the battery fully charged during the winter months, the electrolyte is less likely to freeze and cause unexpected failures.

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.

 

Make A Battery Cleaning Solution

Keeping your battery and the terminals clean is a key maintenance procedure to getting the most performance from your deep cycle batteries. Corrosion occurs when acid from inside of the battery makes its way to the terminals and connectors on top of the battery. The acid attacks the battery terminals and connectors, which if left untreated can reduce or disconnect power to the vehicle. In addition, untreated corrosion can lead to arcing, where the electrical current jumps an air gap resulting in a spark. This arcing can melt terminals, damage connectors, or cause ignition of hydrogen gas emitted during charging.

Fortunately, battery terminal corrosion can be easily cleaned with a special solution that neutralizes battery acid. The solution can be made by mixing one tablespoon (15ml) of baking soda to every 1-cup (250ml) of hot water. Apply the solution to the corroded areas of the battery terminals and use a wire brush or toothbrush to gently clean off any additional residue on the terminals. Once the terminals and wiring are clean, rinse the area with water to rinse any remaining solution off the batteries. Use some paper towels to dry the area.

To slow down the corrosion process apply some corrosion prevention spray to the terminals to coat them. Make sure to check the terminals approximately every six months and clean as necessary. Be sure to use protective gloves and safety glasses to prevent injury and ensure all connections are safely removed from the batteries prior to cleaning. For more battery maintenance tips, visit www.usbattery.com.

Extending Battery Life With An Equalization Charge

Equalization Charging Can Prevent Electrolyte Stratification

By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP Engineering for U.S. Battery Manufacturing

Extending the service life of flooded lead-acid batteries for a golf car fleet is definitely an easy way to save money on annual operating costs. Many fleet managers diligently perform routine maintenance such as checking the battery’s water levels, cleaning terminals, and following proper charging techniques. However, many don’t realize that over time batteries can develop electrolyte stratification. Electrolyte stratification is the result of poor acid circulation that causes higher concentrated acid to fall to the bottom of the battery. This can cause poor battery performance and in extreme cases, stratification damages the bottom of the battery plates causing early battery failure.

Performing an equalization charge reduces the chance of electrolyte stratification.  An equalization charge simply adds an extended high voltage charge at the end of the normal charging process. Charging the battery at a higher voltage level promotes gassing (bubbling) of the electrolyte. The bubbling “re-mixes” the acid and water and prevents stratification from occurring.

 

How To Perform An Equalization Charge

Many high-quality battery chargers have an equalization feature that performs this process as needed, but if your charger doesn’t have one, it’s a simple step-by-step process.

 

1. Make sure the battery is a flooded lead-acid type.

2. All electrical loads to the battery must be removed.

3. The process must be performed in a well-ventilated area with the operator wearing protective equipment such as safety glasses and gloves.

4. Connect your charger and charge the batteries until the normal charge cycle is completed.

  • If the charger is equipped with an automatic equalizing mode, make sure the charger is connected and powered up long enough to complete the equalization.
  • If the charger is not equipped with an automatic equalization mode, assure the charger completes a full, automatic charge and then restart the charger by disconnecting AC power and reconnecting. The charger should restart and extend the charge time by 1-3 hours.

5. Look for gassing and bubbling of the electrolyte to ensure the process is working.

6. Using a hydrometer, take specific gravity readings every hour.

7. You will know that the equalization process is complete when the specific gravity values no longer increase during the gassing stage.  If the charger terminates the charge automatically, before the hourly specific gravity readings are constant, restart the charger and continue the process until specific gravity readings are constant. Consult your battery manufacturer for fully charged specific gravity values.

8. Make sure to replace any water lost during the process.

care-maintenance

Equalizing is just one of several procedures you should be adding to your maintenance schedule every time you service the batteries.  This regular service, including watering, should be performed at least once a month or more frequently during periods of heavy use. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com.