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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.

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