The only thing more mysteriously complex than female psychology is a lead acid battery. So, it's no surprise battery owners will always protest "Its a bad battery!!" and, with raised and boggled eyebrows and a face full of wonder decry, "I only got 2 years from this battery!!". Not usually, rarely actually is that battery a bad battery. So often the battery started off fine but was not maintained well or at all. So, that's why I call this article the 10 commandments of battery maintenance. Why not?! the original commandments were given for longer life too! And besides we all need to improve in our own personal responsibility and what else would be better than "commandments" to help us get there!
Next to a lump of coal, a box of lead is the most exciting thing to spend money on- NOT. But think of your battery as your investment toward all the FUN things your battery allows you to do. Treat it nicely and it will return the favor. If you are committed to your batteries they will be very loyal for years longer than your current job!! - believe it or not the median tenure for salary workers age is 3.2 years (for a millennial that is - in full disclosure). Non millennials is 4.6 years. Your battery powers you in your life's leisure activities such as boating, RV-ing, golfing and others.
That being true let's help you learn to be a more responsible battery user so you get more enjoyment out of your golf cart, boat, RV and whatever else you have that uses a DEEP CYCLE BATTERY!!!!
Let's start with..
1. Thou Shalt Give Your New Battery a Full Charge Before Using It. And remember they need about 20-50 cycles (depending on type) before they reach full capacity, so limit the use in the early going.
2. Thou Shalt Charge Your Battery With the Proper Battery Charger. An AGM battery needs an AGM setting on the charger and likewise Gel and Flooded Lead Acid types need their prospective settings. Ideally you want your charger to be able to fully charge your batteries in 8 hours. Undersized chargers may undercharge and too much current under supervised can over charge. Smart 3-stage charges with multiple settings are very helpful and move to a float mode so as to not overcharge batteries. NOTE- AGM batteries are more quickly and efficiently charged then traditional flooded lead acid batteries!! ALSO....if your deep cycle batteries have been inactive sitting for several months a boost charge should be given especially in warmer climates. Make sure those vent caps if you have them are on snugly during charging.
3. Thou Shalt Secure Your Battery Connections and Cables Tight. Don't get crazy and bust off the terminals. Keep an eye on the connections so they are secure and not loose sending current back into the battery terminal melting it and the whatever else.
4. Thou Shalt Keep Your Terminals Clean and Free of Dirt and Corrosion Not Sometimes But At All Times. Corrosion runs into the cables and obstructs current flow. Powerstride battery has great battery cleaner supplies sold online that ship for free!! - http://www.powerstridebattery.com/noco-ncp-2-cleanup
5. Thou Shalt NEVER Discharge Your Deep Cycle Batteries At or Below 80%. Only exceptions - zombie apocalypse or life survival needs. Ideally you should regularly keep your deep cycle batteries above 50%. 80% works out to be 1.8 volts per cell under normal load (1.145 specific gravity). All the battery longevity graphs indicate this to be the case for all battery types -lead acid, AGM, Gel or lithium in giving you the most cycles and greatest longevity.
6. Thou Shalt Never Pair or Connect Multiple Batteries Together in Series or Parallel With Different Sizes, Ages and Usage Levels. Replace all together at the same time or replace new with new or older with older.
7. Thou Shalt Charge Your Battery With the Proper Battery Charger. An AGM battery requires an AGM setting on the charger and likewise Gel and Flooded Lead Acid battery types need their prospective settings. Ideally you want your charger to be able to fully charge your batteries in about 8 hours. Undersized chargers may undercharge and too much current unsupervised can over charge, boil and even blow up a battery. Smart 3-stage chargers with multiple settings are very helpful to bring batteries to full charge and then maintain them in a float mode. NOTE- AGM batteries are more quickly and efficiently charged then traditional flooded lead acid batteries!! Also, if your deep cycle batteries have been inactive sitting for several months a boost charge should be given especially in warm climates. If your battery has vent caps then keep them on during charging. Powerstride has many cool chargers to check out on line: http://www.powerstridebattery.com/battery-chargers-tenders.
Last 3 commandments are FOR LOW MAINTENANCE BATTERIES ONLY (Batteries that have water caps that require adding water adding)
8. Thou Shalt Check The Water Level on Your Low Maintenance Battery. Always charge your battery before adding water. If the battery plates are showing above the water line then add water to 1/8th of an inch above the plates. Battery industry people would say you should you check the water level on your batteries every 3-6 months. If you are charging and discharging them more frequently or if the ambient temperature is high then check them more frequently (2-3 months). Do not add acid! Just add distilled water and don't overfill with water which leads to overflow of electrolyte.
9. Thou Shalt Test the State of Charge of Your Battery. When recognizing issues with power or ineffective charging, or the inability of your battery to hold a charge then a true charge test should be done. Testing specific gravity of each cell will tell you the true state of charge of your battery. You will then be able to tell if the battery is good, bad or somewhere in between. The state of charge can be determined by a simple hydrometer test of each cell (one vent cap per cell). After your batteries are fully charged insert your hydrometer into each battery cell to quickly determine the specific gravity read out on your hydrometer of each cell. A specific gravity read out of 1.265 SpGr corresponds to 12.63 volts which is a full state of charge.(Consult State of Charge Table). Overtime, as batteries are discharged more and more the electrolyte moves toward the plates and less and less is moved back into the liquid of the battery and thereby reducing the specific gravity of the electrolyte. This leaves the battery at a lower charged rate with a lower specific gravity informing you that your battery is spent, diminished and or has a bad cell or cells.
10. Thou Shalt Pay Closer Attention to Maintenance as Your Battery Gets Older. In addition to generally checking your batteries and cleaning the terminals and making sure the connections are tight and corrosion free. Please also note that as the batteries age, more charge time is required to charge them and or a higher finishing charge rate is needed. Additionally for low maintenance batteries more water is needed or the capacity will decrease.
Deep cycle batteries REQUIRE maintenance. Batteries are not cheap and since you made the investment also make the effort to get the most out of them. Where Can I buy a deep cycle battery- I am glad you asked that question! Right here.