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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.

 

Hate Watering Your Batteries? There’s An Easier Way

Single Point Watering Systems Make Watering Batteries Safe And Easy

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

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

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

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

Illinois Doctor Uses U.S. Battery 12-Volt Deep-Cycle Batteries To Covert His BMW To Electric

With only a 12-mile commute to his office, Dr. Karl Klontz thought it would be environmentally responsible to convert his 1994 BMW 318i from gas to electric power, which would also coincide with his solar energy lifestyle. “As a hobby, I work with solar power, going abroad annually to install solar arrays at schools, clinics, and hospitals in developing nations at no cost to the recipients,” says Klontz. “I decided to make the car electric as I’d already installed small solar arrays on my house to power the lights and appliances.”

Klontz electric motor Klontz realized he used his vehicle on a daily basis and that it consumes the most energy out of all his possessions. “I figured my car was a candidate, so I converted it to electric in order to commute to my job 12 miles away each day,” said Klontz. The conversion of his BMW to electric wasn’t easy, but he managed to gather up the components and put it all together to make it work. “The trickiest parts were finding the proper alignment and bracing for connecting the electric motor to the drivetrain, and the arrangement of the electric components,” said Klontz. “I worked slowly over two years to complete the project in my free time.”

The vehicle is powered by nine U.S. Battery US12V XC2 deep-cycle batteries wired in series that make up a 108-volt system. “I’ve heard from a number of sources in electric car conversion circles, that U.S. Battery products were very reliable providers of energy for jobs such as the one I undertook,” said Klontz. He checked into using Lithium-ion batteries, but the cost was prohibitive. Nonetheless, Klontz’s conversion works fine for his daily driving routine.

“The system has lasted roughly two years with approximately 1,400 charge/discharge US Batterys in Klontz conversioncycles,” says Klontz. “With the car in its fifth year of running, I’ve logged nearly 20,000 miles on the vehicle.” Klontz is well versed in making flooded lead-acid batteries last and adds a maintenance routine to keep the batteries in top condition. “I rely on a number of strategies to keep the batteries running as long as possible,” says Klontz. “I try not to discharge them too deeply on any drive. I recharge them immediately after making each trip, particularly in cold weather. I check their fluid levels regularly. I keep the terminals clean, and I check their individual cell specific gravity at the first sign of any voltage lowering.”

Since Klontz recharges the batteries using the solar array in his home, the cost to operate his car dropped to almost nothing, and his carbon footprint is greatly reduced. Overall, the conversion and its advantages showcase what’s possible and Klontz is happy with what he’s accomplished. “If I were to convert another car to all-electric, I’d choose a lighter model,” said Klontz. Lighter models, however, come with less overall structural protection for the driver, and the BMW has proven to be an exceptionally rigorous vehicle in terms of suspension, brakes, and other underlying features.”

 

Proof Proper Maintenance Adds Years To Golf Car Batteries

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

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

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

 

Is Your Floor Cleaning Machine Undercharged?

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

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

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

Checking Electrolyte Levels On Deep Cycle Batteries

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

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

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

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.

How To Take Cold Temperature Hydrometer Readings For Optimum Battery Performance

Don’t be alarmed if your golf car fleet operates differently as the winter season sets in. Charge and discharge performance of lead-acid batteries is temperature sensitive, so colder weather can result in lower runtimes. Colder weather can also prevent batteries from getting a full charge, so it’s important to take periodic specific gravity readings. When taking specific gravity measurements, be sure to compensate for the temperature of the battery electrolyte in order to get an accurate reading.

Lead-Acid Battery Temperature Correction Factor

Specific gravity readings are referenced against a standard temperature of the electrolyte (not the ambient temperature) of 80-degrees F or 27-degrees C. As a rule of thumb, subtract four points (.004) from your hydrometer reading for every 10-degrees below 80 °F. In Celsius, subtract four points (.004) for every 5.6-degrees below 27°C.

As an example; if the temperature of the electrolyte is 50 °F and your battery specific gravity reading is 1.200, you must subtract .012 from your reading. In this case .004 for every 10-degrees equals .012. Subtract this from 1.200 and your corrected specific gravity reading is 1.188. In this reading, the battery cell is less than 50 percent charged and should be recharged before being put into service. If your corrected specific gravity readings are low, simply charge the batteries until the readings are above 1.265 or above your battery manufacturer’s specification.

Temperature also affects discharge rates. A cold battery will self-discharge slower than a warm battery, but will also exhibit lower capacity. Lower temperature increases the resistance in the battery and causes a reduction in battery capacity. A general rule of thumb to find out the overall capacity of your fleet’s batteries is to figure that for every 15-20 degrees below 80 F, the battery loses 10 percent of its capacity.

 

Batter_SOC-Temp- Infographic

 

 

If your golf car fleet goes into storage during the winter months, make sure that all of the batteries in the fleet are fully charged. This will prevent the electrolyte from freezing and prevent premature battery failure. While in storage, batteries should be boosted every 60 days in colder months and every 30 days in warmer months.

For more information on golf car batteries, run-time ratings, and maintenance tips to keep golf car batteries running longer, visit 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.