You’ve probably heard all of the perks of using a sealed deep cycle battery for your power scooter, solar array or battery backup system. One of the biggest reasons that these batteries have grown in popularity is that they require very little maintenance to have a long life. Nevertheless, even the tiniest bit of maintenance could extend your battery life significantly and save you money in the long run. Let’s look at a few ways that you can add months (and maybe even years) to the life of your battery.
Full Cycle Charging Vs Opportunity Charging
One of the easiest ways to extend your battery’s life is simply by making sure that you are giving your battery a chance to fully charge in a complete cycle each day. This allows your battery to go through a conditioning phase which prevents sulfaction damage to the plates. Opportunity charging is when you plug your battery in sporadically throughout the day, and then unplug it as you need it, without ever completing a full cycle. This does not give your battery the time needed to condition itself properly, and will ultimately deteriorate your battery life.
Understanding Depth Of Discharge
Another thing you can do to protect your battery is to learn about the depth of discharge specifications of your battery. Most deep cycle batteries are built to handle a 50% depth of discharge, but some can handle up to 80% discharge. If you are always recharging your battery in a complete cycle, you could expect to get just over 220 complete cycles when you drain the battery 80% each day, whereas you would get almost 750 complete cycles if you only discharge 50%. On the other hand, you also don’t want to constantly charge your battery when it has been discharged less than 10%. Like opportunity charging mentioned above, this will prevent your battery from ever completing a full cycle, and will cause damage.
When not in use, your deep cycle battery should always be fully charged. These batteries are designed with longevity in mind, and they do not tend to lose a lot of charge when sitting idle. Thus, charging them fully before you place them in storage, and then checking them periodically to top them off if they discharge to 20% DoD will allow you to keep them in good shape without having to constantly keep a charger plugged in. While we’re talking about storage, temperature is another key factor. Batteries stored in freezing temperatures or extreme heat will break down faster than other batteries. It is always best to bring your deep cycle batteries inside and store them in a cool dry place to prevent damage.
Finally, the best way to extend your battery life is by making sure to charge your battery as slowly as possible. For instance, slow charging overnight is much kinder to your battery’s internal components than using a rapid charger for only a few hours. This is because rapid charging increases the internal temperature of the battery.
With these four quick tips, you can give your battery the lifespan it deserves. Most deep cycle batteries can last up to six years with proper care and charging (depending on the frequency of use). It’s up to you to make sure that your battery isn’t being damaged by your charging routine.