Flooded Lead Acid Battery Maintenance: Are Battery Watering Systems Worth The Cost?

Is watering a battery manually versus using a watering system actually saving you money in the long run?

By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President/Engineering U.S. Battery Manufacturing

Golf courses always look for ways to reduce their maintenance costs. But cutting corners with battery maintenance on a golf car fleet can have a dramatic affect on the life expectancy of their deep-cycle batteries. One of those essential maintenance procedures is watering. But the decision to add water manually, versus using a more expensive automated watering system, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s saving you any money in the long run.

While it may seem easier and cost effective to use a garden hose to refill each battery cell, the fact is, you could actually be damaging the batteries and reducing their life expectancy. First of all, no battery manufacturer recommends using a garden hose to refill the water in any deep-cycle battery.  If you prefer to water manually, make sure to use only distilled water, and take carful measurements. Use a water delivery gun, watering pitcher or at the very least, some type of measuring cup to ensure you’re delivering the right amount for each cell. The electrolyte should be kept about 1/4-inch below the bottom of the fill-well in the battery’s cell cover.

Watering systems on the other hand, automatically and precisely fill each battery cell with the right amount. You can also water multiple batteries at once. While watering systems are easy to use, and can save lots of time, they are an added expense for a large fleet.

So to determine which method is most cost effective, we first have to decide how often the batteries must be watered, and the amount of time and cost it takes to water the entire fleet. On average, medium to heavy use golf courses should water their fleet’s batteries at least once per month.

Watering batteries manually takes about 15-30 seconds per cell, and typically involves removing the vent caps, using a watering pitcher or water caddy, (never use a garden hose), and replacing the vent caps.  For a 48-volt golf car, this would translate to approximately 6 to 12 minutes per car.  Multiply that times an average 100-car fleet, and watering once per month translates to 120 to 240 hours per year.  Not bad, but also add in $15 per hour for an average technician, and your maintenance costs can average $1,800 to $3,600 per year.

Compared to a watering system, the time is reduced to 1 to 2 minutes per car, for any size battery pack (no vent cap removal and replacement is required on many watering systems). For the same 100 car fleet, watered once per month, the maintenance time per year is reduced down to 20 to 40 hours, and at a cost of $300 to $600 per year.  That’s a reduction in cost of $1500 to $3000 per year or $7500 to $15,000 over a five year life expectancy of the batteries.

Many golf courses think watering systems are just too expensive, and that doing it by hand must be cheaper in the long run. But consider that the expected life of a watering system is somewhat longer than five years. Many fleet managers that do utilize a watering system claim they can get 10 years out of it, with a moderate level of maintenance and replacement parts.  If we add all the numbers up, the cost of a typical watering system is approximately $100 per car. The cost for the 100 car fleet is approximately $10,000. With this type of investment however, a golf course could expect the payback period to be three to seven years with extended battery life as a bonus.

So for larger fleets, the upfront cost of a watering system can make a significant difference in the long run. But, not every fleet is the same, so you’ll have to figure in your numbers for yourself, to see what’s best for your particular fleet.  Check the websites on various watering system manufacturers. They often have an online calculator that can help measure your return on the investment.

Saving money on maintenance costs is one benefit, but if you can also dramatically increase the life of your fleet’s batteries, then you could see some real savings that might change the way you think about battery maintenance, and the importance of carefully watering your batteries.
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.

Battery Sales And Service Is Awarded A New EZGO Golf Car By U.S. Battery

Don Wallace CMO, Executive VP U.S. Battery awarded Scooter Anderson of Battery Sales and Service (seated) with an EZGO Golf Car for meeting U.S. Battery’s distributor incentive program.

U.S. Battery Manufacturing awarded Battery Sales and Service with a new EZGO golf car, for meeting the challenges of U.S. Battery’s 2013 distributor incentive program.  “Battery Sales and Service is proud to have met the requirements set forth by US Battery in winning the EZ Go golf car,” says Scooter Anderson owner of Battery Sales and Service. “The task was achieved as a result of representing the great products produced by U.S. Battery.”

Battery Sales and Service was founded in 1977 and has been providing the Mid-South and Gulf Coast with wholesale and retail batteries, battery tools and accessories, as well as repair and recycling services. ” We chose the U.S. Battery line of deep cycle batteries because of their unsurpassed commitment  to quality, and their partnering with their distributors,” says Anderson. “We admire U.S. Battery’s constant quest to improve what already  is considered the best deep cycle batteries on the market.”

Battery Sales and Service is based out of Memphis, Tennessee and has other locations in major cities in the south including, Atlanta, Jackson, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham and Mobile. “Our relationship with Battery Sales and Services goes way back, and remains as one of our most valued distributors,” says Don Wallace, CMO, Executive VP U.S. Battery Manufacturing. “We’re happy that they have been able to exceed the goals we’ve set and have continued to partner with us to extend U.S. Battery’s products to new and existing customers.”

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

U.S. Battery Awards Royal Battery Distributors Inc. With A EZGO Golf Car

Royal Battery Distributors Inc. was awarded a new EZGO golf cart by U.S. Battery Co. for meeting goals in a 2013 distributor incentive program.  “We continue to grow the U.S. Battery brand within our markets,” says Cory Tattoli of Royal Battery. “We opened two new branches last year, and hired some great people.”

Founded in 1921 Royal Battery has been based in Florida since 1976, and continues to offer a wide selection of battery products and battery related services to its customers.  “Working with the Royal Battery Team for almost 20 years has been as amazing experience, says George Stratis, U.S. Battery regional sales manager.  “We’re very happy they were able to meet our goals and I was glad to personally present them with a small token of our appreciation.”

With four locations located in Kissimmee, Daytona, Palm Bay, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Royal Battery Distributors Inc. is a premiere distributor of U.S. Battery products to the region. The company also provides trained professionals at each location and conducts recycling of lead acid batteries at an EPA approved lead smelting location. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.

U.S. Battery Offers Battery Maintenance Tips With A New On-Line Video

U.S. Battery Manufacturing’s latest YouTube video provides step-by-step instructions to help consumers understand how to properly water and maintain Flooded Lead-Acid, Deep-Cycle Batteries. The video focuses on safety precautions, as well as the proper tools and steps necessary to clean and maintain any deep-cycle battery used in golf cars, RVs, floor cleaning machines, renewable energy systems, scissor-lifts, and more. The video is intended to help people understand that using the proper equipment and procedure is essential to increasing the life span and performance of a deep-cycle battery.

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

U.S. Battery Awards Harris Battery Co. With A New EZGO Golf Car

U.S. Battery Manufacturing awarded Harris Battery Co. with a new EZGO golf cart for meeting the goals set by U.S. Battery’s 2013 distributor incentive program. “We designed an incentive program for our distributors that was specifically directed at incremental growth for the second half of fiscal 2013,” says Don Wallace, CMO, Executive VP U.S. Battery Manufacturing.”  “Goals were established and the distributors were challenged to meet or exceed those goals.” Harris Battery Co. was one of many distributors who stepped up and met the growth challenge.
Recognized as being one of North America’s premiere independent battery distributors, Harris Battery is also one of U.S. Battery’s valued partners, and has been providing battery products and maintenance accessories to its customers since 1979. The company carries an extensive line of products including, AGM Batteries, Dry Cell Batteries, Deep Cycle Batteries, Battery Chargers and more. Starting out in Ohio, Harris Battery now has warehouses and distributions throughout the Northeast.
Harris Battery and other top battery distributors partnered with U.S. Battery are responsible for the increased growth that U.S. Battery products have experienced over the past several years. “Rewarding Harris Battery with a new EZGO golf car is a small token of our appreciation for their efforts. The real reward however, is working with partners that have consistently promoted and sold U.S. Battery products in an effort to satisfy customers not only across the nation but on a global basis as well,” says Wallace.
U.S. Battery manufactures a variety of deep-cycle batteries that are all manufactured in the U.S.A.. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com

Video Showcases U.S. Battery’s Manufacturing Process And Focus

U.S. Battery Manufacturing created a new video that showcases the manufacturing process of the company’s line of flooded lead-acid batteries. From raw led alloy to a finished product that has the highest initial capacity than any other battery on the market, the video follows the complete manufacturing process, testing procedures, and understanding the company’s exclusive XC2™ formulation.

For additional information on U.S. Battery products that are all manufactured in the U.S.A. contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com

How To Equalize Charge And Prevent Stratification

Golf courses and businesses that incorporate a fleet of golf cars know that extending the service life of the deep-cycle batteries powering their fleet can significantly lower annual operating costs. But the simple process of regularly recharging batteries with a charger using a constant voltage or a fixed charge algorithm, often leads to a condition called electrolyte stratification. Stratification occurs during discharge and recharge when the acid in the electrolyte fails to mix with the water and settles to the bottom of the battery case. Over time, the concentrated acid at the bottom of the cell can damage the battery plates and significantly reduce the service life of the battery.

View of a severely stratified plate.

To reduce stratification and possibly recover a low-performing battery, you can add an equalization charge at the end of the normal charging process. An equalization charge is simply adding a higher-voltage, extended 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.

The Equalizing Process
The method used to properly equalize batteries is as easy as using a high-quality battery charger that features an automatic equalizing mode or has the capability to extend or restart the charging process as needed. Because the process causes the electrolyte to gas, make sure you perform it in a well ventilated area and wear personal protective equipment including safety glasses and gloves. Follow these procedures to properly equalize your batteries.

1.       Make sure the battery is a flooded Lead-Acid type.

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

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

a.) 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.

b.) 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

4.       Correct equalizing will cause gassing and bubbling of the electrolyte.

5.       Take specific gravity readings every hour.

6.       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.

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

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 www.usbattery.com.

New Carbon Additives May Not Be The Best Answer For Battery Sulfation Issues In Renewable Energy Applications

There’s been some talk recently about the use of carbon additives to reduce the effects of sulfation in renewable energy batteries. Sulfation can occur when batteries are operated in a partial state of charge (PSOC) application, common when batteries are charged with solar cells, wind turbines and other unpredictable power sources.  Even though these systems regularly recharge the batteries, they don’t always provide a sufficient level of overcharge. The effect of continual undercharge can, over time, cause “hard sulfate” crystals to form on both the positive and negative battery plates.  These crystals can reduce the capacity of the battery and make it even more difficult to fully charge, resulting in short battery life.

Sulfation related to PSOC applications is a phenomenon that was first observed in electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle applications using sealed valve regulated lead acid batteries (VRLA).  When AGM (or GEL) VRLA batteries are used in PSOC applications, the recombination process occurring at the negative plate disproportionately discharges the negatives in relation to the positives and creates an imbalance in their relative states of charge.  Normally this imbalance is corrected by providing enough overcharge during normal charge, and/or providing an equalization charge, to bring them back into balance.  In PSOC applications, the batteries are not overcharged or equalized enough to re-balance the state of charge, and the negative plates become severely sulfated.

Several battery research groups have found that by using various new types of carbon in the negative plates of VRLA batteries, the sulfation issue could be addressed.  “These new carbons are often referred to as smart carbon, hyper carbon, ultra carbon, graphene or nano-carbon,” says Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing. “But they may or may not be composed of carbon nano-tubes that are still too expensive for large scale applications.”

The significance of this is that negative plate sulfation is a phenomenon that applies specifically to VRLA (AGM & GEL) batteries.  Smart carbon technologies intended to address negative plate sulfation in VRLA batteries do nothing to address sulfation of the positive plates in a flooded deep cycle battery, which is the primary issue when these batteries are undercharged or used in PSOC applications.
U.S. Battery has developed a different approach to address sulfation using the company’s exclusive Outside Positive (OSP™) plate battery design.  The OSP™ plate construction is designed to balance the capacity of the positive plates versus the negative plates.

This balanced active material ratio allows the positive and negative plates to reach full charge at the same time, thus preventing sulfation of one plate versus the other.  Most batteries with conventional OSN (outside negative) plate construction end up with an excess of negative active material.  Adding “Smart Carbon” to the negatives does not address this active material imbalance problem.  Balancing the active materials with OSP™ addresses the disparate sulfation problem in addition to the other benefits.

“The battery industry is continually looking for ways to improve the current technology. Sometimes the latest and greatest idea isn’t always the best for every application,” says Don Wallace CMO Executive Vice President at U.S. Battery Manufacturing. “At the end of the day, you often find that new versions of old ideas are the most productive. Either way involves exhaustive testing to prove or disprove, and in the end, it will ultimately be the customer who makes the determination. It is our job to do the background work necessary to provide customers with the necessary data and quantifiable analysis so that they can make the most educated buying decision. This recent news about carbon has been touted as something that can drastically improve the overall performance of the flooded lead acid battery. But the facts should be completely understood before buying flooded batteries with a carbon additive when sold as a value added feature.”
For additional information on U.S. Battery’s OSP™ battery design for Renewable Energy applications, visit www.usbattery.com.

U.S. Battery’s XC2™ Formulation Now Available In The Company’s Heavy-Duty 12-Volt Applications

U.S. Battery Manufacturing has added its exclusive XC2™ formulation to the company’s US 24DCXC2, US 27DCXC2, and US 31DCXC2 12-volt heavy-duty batteries. Most commonly used in lift and access, floor machines, RV, and Marine applications, the XC2™ formulation provides a higher initial capacity and higher total energy delivery over the life of the battery. “Most deep-cycle batteries for these applications are designed for light-duty cycling in Marine and RV applications, and not for industrial use,” says Don Wallace, U.S. Battery CMO/Executive Vice President.

When continually cycled down to 1.75 vpc. U.S. Battery’s 12-volt “DC” (deep-cycle) battery lasts more than 500 cycles, as compared to only 160 cycles on the highest-rated deep-cycle Marine battery currently available.  “We designed a true deep-cycle product made for heavy cycling, providing optimum performance in industrial applications. Now that we’ve added XC2™, the result is an even longer lasting, higher performing battery, that when properly maintained, can save money and operate longer on a full-charge.”

U.S. Battery’s US 24DCXC2, US 27DCXC2, and US 31DCXC2 12-volt heavy-duty batteries also feature extra heavy-duty connector lugs, a tough polypropylene exterior case and large carrying handles. In recent independent testing, U.S. Battery products consistently outperformed competitor’s products in initial capacity, faster cycle-up to rated capacity, exceeding rated capacity, and total energy delivered over a longer life-cycle.  “Third-party testing conducted without our knowledge, demonstrated that U.S. Battery products with XC2™ formulation outperformed our leading competitor in all these categories,” says Wallace.

U.S. Battery manufactures a variety of deep-cycle batteries that are all manufactured in the U.S.A. and are distributed worldwide. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com

U.S. Battery Honored With Award From Battery Watering Technologies

U.S. Battery received an award of Excellence from Battery Watering Technologies, a leading manufacturer of battery watering systems, for outstanding commitment and performance to the company’s distributors.  “We began doing business with U.S. Battery in January 2011,” says Julie Elliott, Marketing Manager at Battery Watering Technologies. “As our relationship has strengthened, we wanted to recognize U.S. Battery’s commitment to growing sales of the Battery Watering Technologies product line.”

Battery Watering Technologies is one of several accessory partners whose products are offered by U.S. Battery to promote proper lead-acid battery maintenance. “It’s important for us to not only be recognized as the leading deep cycle lead-acid battery on the market, but to also help customers get the most performance from their battery systems,” says Don Wallace, U.S. Battery CMO/ Executive VP, Sales and Marketing.

According to Elliot, BWT’s award of Excellence program reflects the characteristics of successful businesses that have achieved exceptional performance.  “U.S. Battery has excellent leadership within its company, providing a clear entrepreneurial vision and strong direction for both their employees and vendors. This is especially important to BWT as we appreciate knowing what is expected to be a top tier vendor as we strive to surpass the expectations of the customer,” says Elliot.

U.S. Battery is the leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries that are all manufactured in the U.S.A. and distributed worldwide. For more information, contact U.S. Battery 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.

Additional resources:
Watering Systems Offered by U.S. Battery Manufacturing