Every deep cycle VRLA battery is engineered for a specific demand. Battery application, required design life, operational temperature range and performance criteria are all taken into account to ensure that the battery performs as expected.
It’s always best to ensure you utilise the correct type of batteries in your systems in order to achieve longevity and also to prevent costly replacements.
So, what do you need to know about deep cycle batteries to make sure they last for as long as possible?
First, make sure you have the right type of battery for the job
As mentioned above, there are horses for courses in the battery universe.
There are different types of VRLA batteries, including AGM and Gel. Each type is designed and constructed differently to be better suited to different applications.
The best thing to do before installing any type of deep cycle battery is to make sure that the battery is designed for the application you intend to use it for. This will help ensure you get a long life from the battery as well as reliable performance.
Consider the following factors before choosing a battery:
- Will your application be cyclic or standby?
- The number of times the battery will be discharged
- How heavily the battery will be discharged (how flat will it be after use)
- The charging method. Will the battery be on mains powered charge all day or will it be on a less stable source of charge such as solar or wind?
- How will the battery/batteries be connected? Is it a single battery system? Or if there are multiples, will they need to be placed in series or parallel to achieve the desired voltage or capacity?
- What kind of operating temperatures will the battery be exposed to? Bearing in mind any increase in operating temperature over 20°C by 8°C will half the design life of a VRLA battery.
- Physical restraints – what is the area available to store the battery in?
- Safety factors – things like weight and lifting into confined spaces, or whether a ‘wet cell’ battery will pose a WH&S hazard.
If you’re unsure about any of the above factors, consult with an expert (such as someone from the team at Valen!) for advice on choosing the right battery for your needs.
Tips for prolonging battery life
Once you have decided on the correct type of battery to use, you can optimise the life of the battery by keeping these tips in mind:
- Battery charger functionality – make sure that the battery charger is set up with an algorithm to match your battery technology. This is essential to battery longevity as well as safety as an incorrect charger can cause battery explosions. Also make sure that the charger is the correct voltage and capacity. This applies to a solar regulator or inverter charge as well.
- Temperature – insulate the cabinet or battery area if there is a chance the operating temperature will be cold. Exposure to cold temperatures can make a battery sluggish in delivering its required current. Or if the operating temperature is expected to be hot, ensure the battery area or cabinet is correctly ventilated so that the internal temperature does not rise above 20-25°C. Air conditioning, fans, sun shields, insulation and cross ventilation are all viable cooling mechanisms to consider.
- Connections – when connecting the battery to the system, as well as any parallel or series wiring connections, ensure that the terminals are tightly torqued to the correct measurement as per the manufacturers’ I&O manual. In addition, it is essential to ensure that the correct length and material cables are used so that there is no drop in capacity or voltage.
Once your battery is installed correctly in the system, a proper maintenance program needs to be put in place covering the following areas:
- Regular physical checks – to ensure there are no identifiable issues such as acid leaking, terminal corrosion or bulging of the battery casing.
- Terminal connections – retorque these to ensure they are still correctly tightened.
- Regular battery charger (or solar controller) checks – Check these are performing as expected.
- Battery voltage/capacity/impedance testing – these are critical to checking your battery health. You will need the correct testing equipment to ensure this is carried out correctly (the team at Valen would be happy to help with hire options if required).
While the above points are a quick checklist to battery longevity, it is recommended to contact your battery manufacturer and ensure that you install and maintain your battery system in accordance with their Installation and Operation Manual.
Additional tip – use a battery equaliser
Depending on your system configuration, the addition of a battery equaliser can be helpful in extending battery life. This small unit equalises battery charge ensuring all batteries stay balanced when placed in series configuration, preventing one battery from failing prematurely and pulling the entire system down.
Need further advice on prolonging the life of your deep cycle VRLA batteries?
Talk to the team at Valen. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have.