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Cycling Batteries

Rules and Reasons

  1. Shallow discharges greater than 5% of capacity will result in a longer battery life.

    (Batteries are ALSO rated at the number of charge cycles they can support.  A battery discharged to 80% DOD may have a rating of 1500 cycles, however if only discharged to 20% DOD the number of charge cycles increases to 4000)
  2. Discharges of 50% DOD (or less) are recommended.

    (Discharge to no less than 12.1V on a 12V system or 24.2 within a 24V system.) 

    Sulfation of Batteries starts when specific gravity falls below 1.225.  This is 25% of battery capacity.  Within a 12V battery this would be when voltage measures less than 12.4V or 24.8V within a 24V battery array.  Sulfation coats the battery plates reducing and eventually destroying the capacity of the battery or stated otherwise, its ability to generate Volts and Amps.)
  3. The ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM DISCHARGE is to 80% of battery capacity, any deeper discharge and your batteries will suffer irreversible damage.  

    (80% discharge is down to 11.66V on a 12V system or 23.32V within a 24V system)
  4. Most experts recommend operating batteries from 50% to 85% of full charge.    A periodic equalization charge is a must when cycling from 50% to 85% of full charge.

    (The 50-80% range for a 12V system is discharge to between 12.1 and 12.5V.  The 50-80% range for a 24V system is 24.2 to 25V).
  5. Batteries deeply discharged must not be left discharged for any length of time.

    (When batteries are discharged lead sulfate ions clump on to the negative battery plates as they lose their charge to the battery plate.  These ions are disorganized or chaotic as they attach themselves to the battery plates.  However, over time these proximal ions re-arrange themselves into an organized crystalline structure forming sulphate crystals.  Sulfate crystals are non conductive, forming a barrier to future chemical/electrical reaction at the battery plates and electrolyte.  Sulfate crystals are very difficult to dissolve once formed.)
  6. Batteries should NOT be regularly discharged by only a few percent because sulphate builds up irregularly during the first phase of the discharge cycle. Try to ensure your batteries are discharged to at least five or six percent of capacity.
  7. Lead acid batteries do not develop a memory and need not be fully discharged before recharging.
  8. Batteries should be charged as soon as possible after each period of use.
    (see point F above)
  9. Batteries that charge up but cannot support a load are most likely sulfated or corroded and should be tested.
    (Refer to our Battery Maintenance document for proper testing procedures.


Lack of cycling BATTERY STORAGE

 Storage Steps:

  1. Completely charge the battery before storing.
    (This removes the sulphate ions from the battery plates so that they canít organize into crystals.)
  2. Clean the batteries.
    (A light skim of acid on a battery will attract water [hydroscopic], water with the acid can act as a conductor and short the battery or the acid can corrode wires and terminals.)
  3. Store the battery in a cool, dry location, protected from the elements.
    (Batteries are chemically active, storing them in a cool place slows the chemical reaction.  Dry because you donít want condensation or water to short (even a light short over a long period of time will discharge a battery.)
  4. During storage, monitor the specific gravity (flooded) or voltage. Batteries in storage should be given a boost charge when they show a 70% charge or less.
  5. Completely charge the battery before re-activating.
    (Lead acid batteries slowly self discharge over time.)
  6. After charging, for optimum performance, equalize the batteries (flooded) before putting them back into service. Refer to our Battery Equalizing document for this procedure.

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Last modified: September 29, 2016