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.

Using Runtime Ratings To Compare Golf Car Batteries

 

When it comes time to purchase a new set of batteries for your golf car or complete fleet, it makes sense to compare products and shop for the best value.  Because there are so many batteries available for a single type of vehicle, it’s important to make sure you’re comparing batteries with the same internal construction (Flooded vs AGM vs Gel), voltage output, and capacity ratings.  This is where it can get confusing for many golf car owners and fleet managers.

The information on the labels can sometimes be confusing as manufacturers don’t always list the same testing criteria, making comparisons difficult. An example of this is when trying to compare two similar batteries that show different battery cycle life ratings. Battery cycle life ratings are often based on selective data from the manufacturer.

Comparing Depth Of Discharge

Typically, cycle life ratings are determined based on the depth of discharge (DOD), the percentage of amp-hour (AH) capacity discharged from the battery on each discharge. Most battery manufacturers recommend a 50 percent DOD for optimum cycle life vs runtime. The problem is that cycle life can be quoted at a wide variety of DOD ratings which can result in what appears to show a longer cycle life for one battery type over another. This makes for a comparison that is not accurate. When comparing cycle life ratings, make sure they are rated using the same DOD.

Comparing Amp-Hour Ratings

Amp-hour ratings are often used to compare similar lead-acid batteries and can also be misleading. As an example, a 6-volt battery may list its amp-hour (Ah) rating as 200 Ah at the “20hr rate”. This means that the battery will provide 10 amps of current for 20 hours until the battery is fully discharged or “spent”.  A common mistake is assuming that a battery with a 200 amp-hour rating will provide 200 Ah at all discharge rates. Enter Peukert’s law. This states that battery capacity decreases as the rate of discharge increases.  If the same 200 Ah battery is fully discharged at a higher rate over five hours, the battery will deliver only about 150 Ah at 30 amps.  Also, the relationship between battery capacity and the rate of discharge is not linear, so it is important to find the rated capacity at the discharge rate for the application in which you plan to use the battery.  Most battery manufacturers publish tables of ratings vs discharge rate or discharge time for each battery type.

Look At Runtime Ratings

Even though manufacturers list various amp-hour ratings, it’s often difficult to know which ones to use in order to make the right comparison for your application. It may be more accurate to use the runtime ratings in minutes that can typically be found on the battery manufacturer’s spec sheets and websites.  As an example, U.S. Battery publishes ratings that show how many minutes a battery can provide at 25, 56, and 75 amp-draws. By comparing the rated runtime in minutes, you’ll get a better idea of the performance you can expect when comparing two similar batteries. These runtime ratings are based on the actual discharge currents seen in typical applications and may be more applicable than the amp-hour ratings. For example, RV and marine discharge rates usually fall into the 25 amp range while most golf car discharge rates fall into the 56–75 amp range (56 amps for 48-volt cars and 75 amps for 36-volt cars).

Key things to remember when comparing batteries:

  1. Cycle life comparisons should be made at the same depth of discharge (DOD).
  2. Amp-hour ratings should be compared using the same discharge time and/or discharge current that will be used in the application.
  3. Run-time ratings may be the most accurate comparisons when selecting a battery for a given application.

RV Batteries- Tips To Extending Battery Life

Simple Steps To Ensure You’re Never Without Power In Your RV

Backup battery power in your RV provides a great advantage when visiting campsites or locations where hookups aren’t available. However when the maintenance of these deep-cycle batteries is neglected, it can dramatically shorten their overall performance and service life.

While it’s sometimes difficult to always remember to water and check your RV’s batteries, following a strict and regular battery maintenance program can dramatically increase their performance and longevity.

A regular maintenance program for deep-cycle batteries isn’t extremely difficult. Here are several simple procedures to follow that will make them last longer and save you money in the long run.

 

1) Safety Is Most Important
Be sure to wear gloves, eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Remove any electrical loads, even a battery charger, when servicing batteries.

2) Check The Batteries
Open the battery compartment and check to make sure the vent caps on top of the batteries are properly seated. The vent caps contain spark arrestors to help prevent ignition of gasses in and around the batteries. Always keep them in place except during watering.

3) Clean Terminals
Use a solution of baking soda and water to neutralize any corrosion on battery terminals. Use a wire brush with a wooden or plastic handle to prevent accidental arcing. Rinse the area with water and dry with a clean cloth.

4) Check Connections
Battery terminal connections can come loose, so check to make sure they’re tight. The recommended terminal torque is 100 inch-pounds or just 15 to 18 pounds on the end of a six-inch wrench. Use insulated tools or wrap them with electrical tape to prevent accidental arcing. Add a bit of silicone spray on the terminals to resist corrosion.

5) Check Electrolyte Levels
Check the electrolyte levels of the batteries every two to four weeks depending on use. Some electrolyte is lost after each charge cycle, so it’s important to make sure the electrolyte is at the proper level—about a quarter inch below the bottom of the fill well.

6) Add Water
If electrolyte levels are low, add water, but follow these procedures:
a) Always charge the battery before watering but make sure the electrolyte covers the plates before charging. b) Use caution when removing the vent caps to prevent acid splatter. c) Use only distilled or deionized water. d) Use a watering gun or pitcher to fill each cell to prevent over-watering (never use a water hose). e) Water all cells evenly and replace the battery vent caps assuring each one is properly installed and seated.

7) Perform An Equalization Charge
Every thirty days, you should perform an equalization charge, especially if your RV has been in storage. An equalization charge is an extended charge that is done after the normal charge has completed. It causes additional gassing in the electrolyte (bubbling) which is essential for mixing the electrolyte to prevent electrolyte stratification. Stratification is a build-up of stronger acid at the bottom of the battery that can reduce battery life. Make sure to check the battery manufacturer’s recommendations for proper charging to make sure the correct charger is being used. If your charger is equipped with an automatic equalizing mode, make sure the charger is connected and powered up long enough to complete a full equalization charge. If your charger is not equipped with an automatic equalization mode, assure the charger has completed a full charge and then restart the charger by disconnecting AC power and reconnecting. The charger should restart and extend the charge time by one to three hours.

According to Fred Wehmeyer, senior vice president of engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, these maintenance procedures can dramatically increase the life of your RV’s batteries and save you the cost of having to replace them more frequently. In the long run, you’ll enjoy your trips and not have to worry about the power going out when you need it most.

For more information on U.S. Battery’s line of RV and Marine products, visit www.usbattery.com.

Battery State Of Charge Temperature Correction Factor

Here’s an easy way to factor in temperature when checking a battery’s state of charge

By simply using a hydrometer to measure a battery’s state of charge, most fleet managers can determine the condition of the flooded lead-acid batteries powering their vehicles. The process can determine if a battery is at the end of its life, if it has a bad cell, or if the charging methods aren’t properly keeping the batteries fully charged.

For those that include this as part of a maintenance routine, you must also make sure to factor the temperature of the electrolyte. Heat and cold will affect the outcome of any hydrometer reading and without adding or subtracting a correction factor, hydrometer measurements can be off. This is one of the most common questions that fleet and maintenance managers ask when trying to keep a log of battery performance across their entire fleet.

The basic temperature factors to add or subtract from hydrometer readings is simple if you start from a baseline of 80⁰F or 27⁰C. The first important point to note is that this baseline is for the temperature of the electrolyte, not ambient temperature. So it’s important to have a quality thermometer to use with your hydrometer when taking state-of-charge measurements.
The correction factor is simple:

In Fahrenheit-
Add 0.004 for each 10⁰F the electrolyte temperature is above 80⁰F
Subtract 0.004 for each 10⁰F the electrolyte temperature is below 80⁰F

In Celsius-
Add 0.005 for each 7⁰C the electrolyte temperature is above 27⁰C
Subtract 0.005 for each 7⁰C the electrolyte temperature is below 27⁰C

Make sure to compare your readings to the manufacturer’s specifications for battery open circuit voltage (OCV) vs state of charge (SOC). Most are listed by battery voltage and also show specific gravity (SG) vs state of charge. It’s also important to use the proper safety precautions when performing any maintenance to flooded lead-acid batteries.

By applying the temperature correction factor, you’ll be certain that your hydrometer readings are correct, and you can take the appropriate action to get the most performance and longevity from your batteries. To find additional resources on battery maintenance and ways to increase battery efficiency and service life, visit U.S. Battery’s website at www.usbattery.com.

New Sense Smart™ Electrolyte Sensor Valve Takes The Guesswork Out Of Watering Batteries

Battery maintenance just got easier with the new Sense Smart™ Electrolyte Sensor Valve, a single replacement valve with a built-in probe and LED indicator that lets operators know when a set of batteries require watering. Flooded lead-acid batteries used in golf cars, access lifts, cleaning machines, forklifts and many other vehicles, lose water from normal evaporation and charging. Adding a Sense Smart™ Electrolyte Sensor Valve into one of the batteries in the vehicle’s battery set can monitor the electrolyte levels of the entire pack.

“Many industries have switched to battery powered vehicles for their fleets, and know that flooded lead-acid batteries are the most cost effective method to power them,” says Don Wallace, U.S. Battery CMO/Executive Vice President. “The problem is providing proper maintenance to all those batteries can be overwhelming and time consuming. The Sense Smart™ valve takes the guesswork out of battery watering maintenance, which when done routinely, can dramatically improve battery life, save time, and substantially reduce annual operating costs.”

The Sense Smart™ valve is the only valve of its kind with a built-in processor and probe that triggers an LED indicator light, mounted to the battery pack, and tells operators if the battery set needs water. A solid green light indicates the electrolyte level of the set is okay. A solid red light tells operators to add water after the next full-charge. A blinking red light indicates the electrolyte level has been low for more than 10 days and requires immediate attention.

The Sense Smart™ Electrolyte Sensor Valve (TBU 1000) simply replaces one cell vent cap on a single battery of a connected battery set, and doesn’t require drilling or calibration. An optional system (TBU 2000) includes a dash mounted LED indicator with a six-foot wire lead. Manufactured by Battery Watering Technologies, and distributed exclusively through U.S. Battery Manufacturing, the Sense Smart™ valve fits a variety of 6-volt, 8-volt, and 12-volt batteries and works with all BWT single point watering systems.

U.S. Battery products and Battery Watering Technology products are manufactured in the U.S.A. and distributed worldwide. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.

Battery Watering Technologies Visits U.S. Battery Manufacturing To Discuss New Designs And Continued Growth Of Single Point Watering Systems

Battery Watering Technologies, manufacturers of single point watering systems, visited U.S. Battery’s Corona, California plant to discuss the growth of its product line, and the use of SPWS in various industrial applications. Tyler Owen, Vice President Battery Watering Technologies, and Lee Pinkston, Western Regional Account Manager at Battery Watering Technologies (BWT) said that sales of SPWS in partnership with U.S. Battery Manufacturing, continues to maintain steady growth.
According to Dan Grigsby, Western States Regional Manager for U.S. Battery, the use of SWPS is increasing in a variety of industries such as golf car, aerial platform, fork-lifts, solar energy storage, and in the RV industry. “Proper watering with a SPWS can provide dramatic improvements to increase battery life, as well as reduce the time, effort, and annual costs involved in watering a fleet using FLA batteries,” said Grigsby.

Pinkston provided examples of BWT’s SPWS valves that feature internal spark arrestors, a three-piece z-lock hose-tee for added strength, and an indicator eye that allows the operator to see when the battery cell is properly filled. The company manufactures a float design unique to a variety of make and model batteries, to ensure proper electrolyte levels are reached with different battery case and cell cap designs. BWT’s gravity feed and direct flow valves that are used to water single or multiple batteries at once were also discussed, along with recommended tips for battery watering. “BWT offers a variety of fill systems that make it easy to water multiple batteries,” said Pinkston, “But there are important things to remember about watering batteries in this manner that can help prevent accidental siphoning and spills. The first is to never water before charging the battery and never leave a gravity feed system unattended. Only use only distilled or filtered water, and if you are using a direct fill system always make sure it has a pressure regulator attached to it to avoid accidental spills from over pressurizing the system.”

U.S. Battery Manufacturing has a four-year relationship with BWT and offers all of the company’s SPWS products with any of U.S. Battery’s Deep-Cycle batteries. New and exciting technology is in the works that will be available from both companies and will be announced later in the year. For more information on BWT SPWS products or U.S. Battery products, visit https://usbattery.com/products/watering-systems/ Contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945.

Pictured above from left to right: Don Wallace, U.S. Battery CMO/Executive Vice President, Mike Wallace, U.S. Battery Creative Manager, Lee Pinkston, Western Regional Account Manager Battery Watering Technologies, Heather Arredondo and Dan Grigsby, U.S. Battery Manufacturing Western States Regional Sales, and Tyler Owen, Vice President at Battery Watering Technologies.

Flow-Rite Meets With U.S. Battery Manufacturing To Showcase New Products For U.S. Battery Dealers

Flow-Rite, a leading manufacturer of single point watering systems for batteries, visited with the sales, engineering and marketing staff at U.S. Battery in Corona, California. Rob Brock, Business Manager – Emerging Markets for Flow-Rite, discussed some of the latest products and tips U.S. Battery dealers can use to ensure customers are getting the most out of their system, and ultimately the best battery performance.

 Flow-Rite 12volt Mini-Pump

New Flow-Rite 12volt Mini-Pump plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter, or has an optional 110V adapter.

As single point watering systems become more popular with large golf car, floor machine, and lift & access fleets, Flow-Rite found that many fleet operators find it easier to use their regulated hose supply to fill batteries with tap water from a standard water spigot. Brock recommended that if this method is used, the water should be first filtered through a Deionizer. This removes any dissolved solids that if left unchecked, can shorten battery life over time. “Filtering the water through a Deionizer can greatly improve battery life, especially if you’re not sure of the quality of water from your municipal water supply,” said Brock. “It’s also a good idea to use a TDS tester on your tap water, to measure the amount of total dissolved solids in the tap water.”

Brock also introduced a couple of new products, including a Flow-Rite 12-volt mini-pump. This plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter, or has an optional 110V adapter, and allows for a steady stream of water to flow into the Flow-Rite SPW system. The mini-pump supply makes it easier to water several vehicles without having to use a hand pump or gravity tank, which some people find difficult use. Brock also announced that Flow-Rite is offering a new SPW system specifically for battery operated pallet jacks and walkie pallet trucks made in North America. These new systems allow for easy access to water batteries without having to remove panels, and reduces maintenance time. In addition, Flow-Rite also offers industrial watering systems for a variety of forklift battery applications.

These new products and other Flow-Rite products are available from U.S. Battery dealers nationally and globally. For more information on how U.S. Battery products work in conjunction with Flow-Rite SPW systems, and the basic steps on installing one, visit https://usbattery.com/products/watering-systems/ Contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945.

Top Photo Left To RightRob Brock, Flow-Rite, Zach Cox, Heather Arredondo, Dan Grigsby, from U.S. Battery Manufacturing

 

Flow-rite meeting 12vpump

Flow-Rite’s Rob Brock, discussed new products from the company that will help U.S. Battery dealers to provide customers with easier methods to water and maintain battery packs for better performance.

 

 

Rob Brock from Flow-Rite also pointed out that the O-rings on the watering hose couplers can wear out over time. So dealers should be aware of this and easily be able to fix any problems brought to their attention.

Rob Brock from Flow-Rite also pointed out that the O-rings on the watering hose couplers can wear out over time. So dealers should be aware of this and easily be able to fix any problems brought to their attention.

 

 

 

In addition to providing a great SPW system, Flow-Rite water manifolds can also be custom branded with your company's logo.

In addition to providing a great SPW system, Flow-Rite water manifolds can also be custom branded with your company’s logo.

 

 

 

Flow-Rite also offers new Single Point Watering Systems for pallet jacks and walkie pallet trucks that make it easier to water batteries without removing the vehicle's panels.

Flow-Rite also offers new Single Point Watering Systems for pallet jacks and walkie pallet trucks that make it easier to water batteries without removing the vehicle’s panels.

 

 

Battery powered fork lifts are often difficult to water, but Flow-Rites SPW systems for these vehicles make the job much easier.

Battery powered fork lifts are often difficult to water, but Flow-Rites SPW systems for these vehicles make the job much easier.

 

Additional Resources:

How to install a Flow-Rite SPW System

PDF-Flyer of Flow-Rite SPW System

6-Volt, 8-Volt or 12-Volt, Which Battery Pack Configuration Makes The Most Sense?

When it comes time to purchase a new set of deep-cycle, flooded lead-acid batteries, golf car fleet managers look for ways to save money. With many golf cars requiring 48-volt battery packs, one of the most common money-saving assumptions is that purchasing fewer batteries with higher voltages will be a less expensive alternative. For example, a typical 48-volt golf car may use eight 6-volt batteries, six 8-volt batteries, or four 12-volt batteries. Purchasing fewer batteries with a higher voltage is appealing because it reduces your upfront cost. However, the pack configuration should be based on a few more factors.

The example below shows a comparison between three different packs utilizing three main battery voltages. As the table shows, the 6-volt system has a higher capacity than the 8-volt and 12-volt systems. A typical round of golf will require about 40 minutes of run time while discharged at 56 amps. With all three configurations, the batteries have more than enough capacity to get through two rounds.

However, one thing to keep in mind is the effect of depth of discharge (DOD). A battery’s DOD is defined as the capacity taken out of the batteries as a percentage of its overall capacity before recharging. The lower the depth of discharge in lead acid batteries, the greater number of cycles they will deliver. Theoretically, a battery that is routinely discharged to 30 percent DOD will last about 2.2 times as long as a battery that is discharged to 60 percent. With the 6-volt and 8-volt systems, a day’s worth of golf car use discharges the battery pack to a lesser extent. This can reduce your overall operating costs in the long run, by yielding greater cycle life and ultimately extending the time between replacements.

The pack configuration that fits a given application can be determined by weighing upfront costs, battery capacity and cycle life. The price points listed below show that an 8-volt and 6-volt pack costs roughly 13 percent and 37 percent more than a 12-volt pack respectively. Although the initial cost is greater for the 6-volt and 8-volt packs, these configurations give a much greater return on investment*. Armed with this information, you can make a better decision on which battery configuration truly gives you the most cost savings.

*Vehicles utilizing regenerative braking and the use of opportunity charging can reduce the depth of discharge and extend cycle life.

 

48-volt battery pack comparison

The values above were obtained from a study of various batteries in the industry. Expected cycle life is theoretical and is highly dependent on other factors, such as maintenance and battery brand. Price points were obtained by comparing the three different classes of batteries at an average retail price.