Interesting facts about batteries

Here are some interesting battery factsIn this article we want to give you some interesting facts about batteries and do-it-yourself guides for testing batteries, buying a new battery or how to charge your battery.

How to test a battery?

Did you ever wonder how you can test a battery on your own? They are different ways and I would like to introduce them to you.

The digital D.C. Voltmeter

You can buy a temperature compensating hydrometer at an auto parts store to measure the specific gravity. Use a digital D.C. Voltmeter to measure the voltage. Please have your battery fully charged before you are starting. You don’t need to remove the surface charge before testing. If the battery has been setting at least 6 hours you may begin testing. To remove surface charge the battery must experience a load of 20 amps for 3 plus minutes. Turning on the headlights (high beam) will do the trick. After turning off the lights you are ready to test the battery.

State of Charge Specific Gravity Voltage – 12V Voltage – 6V
100% 1.265 12.7 6.3
75% 1.225 12.4 6.2
50% 1.190 12.2 6.1
25% 1.155 12.0 6.0
Discharged 1.120 11.90 6.0

* Sulfation of Batteries starts when specific gravity falls below 1.225 or voltage measures less than 12.4 (12v Battery) or 6.2 (6 volt battery). Sulfation hardens the battery plates reducing and eventually destroying the ability of the battery to generate Volts and Amps.

Load testing

Load testing can tell us a lot about the state of a battery, about its amperage output and about its ability to retain charge. Most battery companies issue the amp load value alongside their batteries, the value of which is usually half the CCA rating (e.g. 500CCA would load test at 250A for 15sec). Load testing can only be performed on a battery at full charge. A healthy battery should reflect the following:

  • A hydrometer value of less than “0.05” differences between battery cells.
  • A digital voltmeter should reflect the values shown in the documentation. It should be noted that a “gel-cell” battery should read slightly higher at full capacity (12.8-12.9V), and that readings of less than 10.5V on a fully charged battery indicates a shorted cell.

When in doubt about battery testing, call the battery manufacturer. Many batteries sold today have a toll free number to call for help.

Tips for buying a new battery

When purchasing a new battery it is important to consider a few critical factors:

  1. That the physical size and terminal type meet your specifications.
  2. The battery has a high reserve capacity or amp-hour rating.
  3. If your battery expected to receive little or no on-going maintenance, Gel-Cell or Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) cells should be taken as preference to Wet-Cell.
  4. Considering that the longer a battery sits idle the more negative sulfation occurs, you should be looking for the most recently manufactured battery*.

*The letters A-M denote the month of manufacture (not including “I”), and the numbers 1-99 the year.

Battery Life and Performance

It is natural to conclude that as consumer energy demands increase, battery life expectancy decreases – it is an unfortunate fact that today only 30% of batteries survive to the 48 month mark. The capacity for a battery to both take and retain charge is directly affected by the process of sulfation, with over 80% of battery failure being attributed to sulfation build-up, the causes of which are numerous:

  • Large delays between charges.
  • Deep-cycling batteries which can’t withstand deep discharge.
  • Undercharging. Even if a battery is filled to 90% capacity, the remaining 10% capacity will undergo sulfation.
  • Internal discharge ,which increases proportionally to battery temperature after 37°C.
  • Insufficient electrolyte.
  • Incorrect charging level and settings.
  • Parasitic drain (something that discharges the battery while the engine is switched off).

How to correctly charge a battery

How you correctly charge a batteryWhen it comes to recharging a battery – the quicker you replace the used energy the better. When batteries are discharged partially or in full, sulphates immediately begin to affect both their performance and longevity. An engine’s alternator works most effectively at recharging a battery if the battery has not been fully discharged. Batteries with very low charges (deep-cycled) are frequently overcharged by the alternator, resulting in long term damage to your battery. Most engine batteries have the capacity for approximately 10 deep cycles before failure so it’s important to remember the 3-step regulated charging process:

  1. Bulk charging – Up to 80% of the battery energy capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum voltage and current rating of the charger.
  2. Absorption – After the battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts, the voltage is held constant until 98% capacity.
  3. Float – The remaining 2% of charge is applied through a regulated voltage of ~13.4V at approximately 1 AMP. This process brings the battery to full capacity, and maintains its charge whilst preventing battery cycling.

Battery – do’s and don’ts

They are some things to consider if you want to handle batteries in a safe way but also to keep them in a good condition. Here are my do’s and don’ts in a small summary:

Battery Do’s

What is good for a battery

  • Think Safety First.
  • Do regular inspection and maintenance especially in hot weather.
  • Do recharge batteries immediately after discharge.
  • Do buy the highest RC reserve capacity or AH amp hour battery that will fit your configuration.

Battery Don’ts

  • Don’t add new electrolyte (acid).
  • Don’t use unregulated high output battery charger to charge batteries.
  • Don’t disconnect battery cables while engine is running — your battery acts as a filter.
  • What is bad for a battery

  • Don’t put off recharging batteries.
  • Don’t add tap water as it may contain minerals that will contaminate the electrolyte.
  • Don’t discharge a battery any deeper than you possibly have to.
  • Don’t let a battery get hot to the touch and boil violently when charging.
  • Don’t mix size and types of batteries.

If you want to increase the life of your battery get some more information here.

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