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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.

Installing A Flow-Rite Single Point Battery Watering System

Keeping your flooded lead-acid batteries properly filled with water is an essential part to prolonging battery life and maintaining optimum performance. But with multiple batteries that make up a power source for golf carts, RVs, cleaning machines and other vehicles, the task of watering can be a long and cumbersome process.

This is one of the reasons why a single point watering system can be very useful. Using a single point watering system can make it easy to water a complete battery pack, without having to reach them in cramped compartments or having to check each battery cell. Complete systems like those available from Pro-Fill are easy to install and feature a fill-valve that stops the flow of water into the battery cell, once the proper fill level is achieved. Flow-Rite also builds in a flame arrestor to prevent accidental ignition of battery cell gasses, making the entire process very safe and reliable.

Installing a Flow-Rite Pro-Fill watering system involves removing the battery cell vent covers and replacing them with the new fill-valves supplied in the kit. Measure and trim the supplied water hose leading to the fill-valves on each battery, starting from the center outwards. Route the lines to each of the batteries in the pack and cap off the ends to keep the water contained within the system. The Flow-Rite system can be used with a gravity feed water tank, or a siphon hose that can be inserted into a bottle of distilled water. It’s also important to remember that after installing a single point watering system, that you only add water after the batteries have been charged. With easier access and faster, accurate, watering capabilities, its easy to see how a single point watering system can be a huge benefit to maintaining your flooded lead-acid batteries and extending their overall service life and performance. For more information on a variety of single point watering systems for flooded lead-acid batteries, visit www.usbattery.com.

 

Installation Procedure:

USB_FlowR-1a

The Flow-Rite fill valves automatically shut the flow of water when the proper fill level is reached. The valves also have a built-in flame arrester to prevent accidental ignition of battery cell gasses.

 

Make sure you’re in a well ventilated room and use proper battery maintenance protection. Remove the vent caps on each battery.

 

On six-volt systems the Flow-Rite valves come in sets of three. These are inserted into each of the battery vents.

 

The fill valves lock in place by twisting the top cap.

The fill valves lock in place by twisting the top cap.

 

Find one of the center batteries in your pack and attach the fill hose so that it will be easy to access.

Find one of the center batteries in your pack and attach the fill hose so that it will be easy to access.

 

 The hoses simply install by pushing them onto the water channel connectors as shown here.


The hoses simply install by pushing them onto the water channel T-connectors as shown here.

 

Measure and cut the appropriate length of hose to connect each of the batteries.

Measure and cut the appropriate length of hose to connect each of the batteries.

 

The Pro-Fill directions will give you ideas on how to properly route the lines to manage the flow of water to all the batteries in your pack.

The Flow-Rite directions will give you ideas on how to properly route the lines to manage the flow of water to all the batteries in your pack.

 

Some of the water T-connectors at the farthest ends of the battery packs will need to be capped off to properly divert the water to the other batteries.

Some of the water T-connectors at the farthest ends of the battery packs will need to be capped off to properly divert the water to the other batteries.

 

The center fill hoses incorporate a quick disconnect coupler that prevents water from leaking out of the system. The other half of the fill valve attaches to a water source like a gravity feed tank or hand pump.

The center fill hoses incorporate a quick disconnect coupler that prevents water from leaking out of the system. The other half of the fill valve attaches to a water source like a gravity feed tank or hand pump.