What's the deal with Lead Acid Batteries?

As technology progressed in the mid-1970s, researchers developed a maintenance-free lead acid battery that was able to operate in any position.
The liquid electrolyte was transformed into moistened separator and the enclosure was sealed. In addition, safety valves were added to allow venting of gas during charge and discharge.

Nowadays, life without lead acid batteries seems implausible. They have myriad uses and are one of the most useful batteries with the longest life cycle, the greatest energy density per pound, and the most mature recycling infrastructure of similarly priced batteries.

The lead acid battery has been used for over 140 years. Lead acid batteries are reliable, mature secondary batteries, globally manufactured and therefore are a widely used and understood technology.
When used correctly, they are very durable and dependable.Their self-discharge rate is among the lowest of rechargeable battery systems. Capable of high discharge rates, the lead acid battery is able to deliver the bursts of energy that are required to start an engine or power an item.

Lead acid batteries are environmentally sound in that they are recycled at an incredibly high rate. Today, 98% of lead acid batteries are recycled.
With low maintenance requirements, the (SLA) lead acid battery includes no memory and no electrolyte to fill. In terms of these advantages of the lead acid battery, they are widely used by many different industries, such as, telecommunication, power systems, radio, and television systems, solar, UPS, electric vehicles, automobile, forklifts, emergency lights, etc.

Why a battery cannot be charged (fully charged)?
If a battery can not be charged, it will be due to the occurrence of Lead sulfate (PbSO4), sulfation as it is commonly called.
Generally speaking, sulfation is the prime cause of battery failure and loss of capacity especially, sulfation is a natural occurrence in all lead / acid batteries including sealed, gel-cell, and recumbent batteries.
It's the prime cause of early battery failure and is when the sulfur in the sulfuric acid forms sulfur crystals and they attach to the lead plates and then act as an "insulation" keeping the battery from accepting a charge.
Typical chargers and even "smart or automatic chargers" can not overcome this phenomena and thus the battery is discarded as "not being able to hold a charge".
Sulfation occurs far more readily in hot climates where batteries aren't frequently used or kept up to voltage.

How to avoid the plate sulfation?
1. Using an extended charge, known as an equalization charge to slow-down the rate of sulfation
2. Avoid low cutoff voltage discharges
3. Recharge immediately after discharge
4. Completely charge before using
5. Please shelve the battery after it’s fully charged
Batteries must be constantly charged and discharged like your motor vehicle battery does automatically by regular use.

Does overcharging damage batteries?
OVERCHARGING is the most destructive element in a battery's service life.
During overcharging, excessive current causes the oxides on the plates of the battery to "shed" and precipitate to the bottom of the cell and also heat the battery, thus removing water from the electrolyte.
Once removed, this material (which represents capacity) is no longer active in the battery.
In addition, the loss of water from the electrolyte may expose portions of the plates and cause the exposed areas to oxidize and become inactive, thus reducing additional capacity.
Sealed batteries are not immune from the same internal results when overcharged.
In fact, sealed recombination absorption and gel batteries are particularly sensitive to overcharging.
Once moisture is removed from the battery, it cannot be replaced.
Portions of the battery damaged due to overcharging are irretrievable.
However, if detected early, corrective adjustments to the charging device will save the undamaged portion of the battery.
Initial signs of overcharging are excessive usage of water in the battery, continuously warm batteries, or higher than normal battery voltages while under the influence of the charger. If overcharging is suspected, correct immediately. - DO NOT OVERCHARGE, this will shorten the serviceability life of any battery.

Does over-discharging damage batteries?
OVER-DISCHARGING is a problem which originates from insufficient battery capacity causing the batteries to be overworked.
Discharges deeper than 50% (in reality well below 12.0 Volts or 1.200 Specific Gravity) significantly shortens the Cycle Life of a battery without increasing the usable depth of cycle.
Infrequent or inadequate complete recharging can also cause over-discharging symptoms called SULFATION.
Despite that charging equipment is regulating back properly, over-discharging symptoms are displayed as loss of battery capacity and lower than normal specific gravity.

Alternators and float battery chargers including regulated photo voltaic chargers have automatic controls which taper the charge rate as the batteries come up in charge.
It should be noted that a decrease to a few amperes while charging does not mean that the batteries have been fully charged.
Battery chargers are of three types. There is the manual type, the trickle type, and the automatic switcher type.

If you want to learn more about this or have further questions, pop in and see us in store or give us a call! We'll take any chance to talk shop.


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