General Information on Batteries
Wonder what happen in a world where there is no battery? Thanks to Deep Cycle Batteries, we are able to store energy and reused it when need arises. In renewable energy systems that require the storage of electricity, deep cycle batteries play a keep role.
A battery can simply be defined as a storage vessel for electricity. This makes it a key player heavily relied upon by the system as a whole. As a storage vessel, they provide a relatively steady source of energy during periods when your photovoltaic system is not producing power or when the grid is down. Batteries are predictable and stable enough for reliable long-term service although they are not 100 percent efficient.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Deep Cycle Battery
When we talk of battery in the context of renewable energy, we are mostly referring deep cycle batteries.
A deep cycle battery is an energy storage unit in which a chemical reaction occurs that produces electrical energy or electricity for short. These batteries are designed to be discharged and recharged many times hence the name Deep Cycle Battery.
A deep cycle battery is similar to a car battery in that they are lead acid battery, but they differ in many aspects. For example, while a car battery is designed to deliver a high burst of energy for a short time, a deep cycle battery provide a more constant (steady rate) charge or power over a long period and are thus commonly used with golf carts, motor homes, boats and other recreational vehicles.
While a starting battery has thinner plates and is more prone to warping and pitting when discharged, a deep cycle battery is built to have less instant energy, but greater long-term energy delivery or discharge time. Their thicker plates make them capable of storing huge electrical energy (charge) and thus can survive a number of discharge cycles.
Deep cycle batteries after being heavily discharged over longer periods, recover fully. This is thanks to their thicker plates with a high content of antimony design features. When used overnight, their use might deplete about 50-70 percent of the battery capacity. The energy depletion rate largely depends on the house loads of the boat. This call for the need to recharge which again re-deposited energy into the bank, and the cycle, or process, starts over. Generally, the selected deep cycle batteries should be sized to store three to four times the expected amount of energy to be used between recharge cycles.
There are different types of deep cycle batteries such as AGM batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat), flooded batteries, gel batteries and recently lithium-ion. All of which are made differently.
The flooded battery is the most commonly used deep cycle battery. It is made up of lead acid similar to the standard lead acid battery in car batteries. The gel batteries, also famous has a gel-like substance in them while the AGM batteries consist of acid suspended in a glass mat separator. The next generation lithium-ion battery systems are projected to experience significant uptake among grid-connected and off-grid households in the future.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Deep Cycle Battery Ratings
They are basically two ways to rate batteries, volts and amps.
Amp hour (Ah) is the measure of the capacity of chemical energy available inside a battery that is converted into electrical energy. It also refers to as the discharge rate. The discharge rate is a measure of the time it takes to discharge a battery before it needs recharging. In other words it’s the amount of energy that the battery can store.
The capacity of the battery is reduced if the battery has a faster discharge rate or if it takes a shorter period, for instance over 1 hour to completely discharge. Thus, the amp hour capacity will be reduced by about 50% and so will the amount of cycles.
When a battery is discharged at a constant rate of current over many hours, it’s referred to as the “C” rating. For instance, many small batteries are rated at the C20 rate. This implies, the battery will deliver its amp hour capacity if discharged (in used) over 20 hours. Lager batteries in large stand-alone power systems are rated C100 rate meaning they are designed to discharge (used) over 100 hours or 4 days with a life span typically of about 15 years.
More recently, batteries for residential applications are often referred to by their kilowatt-hour (kWh) capacity.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Discharge Cycles
Selecting the right battery for a particular use can be confusing. While all batteries claim to be particularly well suited to an energy storage purpose, all deep cycle batteries are not designed or created equal, even within their own type such as Gel, Sealed Lead Acid or AGM.
The goal of most deep cycle battery users is to select one that will last many years since purchasing a deep battery maybe quite an investment. The cycle rating is one of the best ways to determine a battery life span. This is the measure of the number of times a battery can be discharged and recharged during its life span. IEC 896-2 discharge cycle, based on a 100% discharge, is the best benchmark.
The IEC 896-2 provides a good baseline for drawing comparisons between different brands and also different battery lines from the same manufacturer although discharging a battery 100% is not recommended because it significantly decrease the life of any deep cycle battery.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Battery Charging
The battery sulfates or its performance and life span decreases if it’s not recharged thus charging a battery immediately after being used (discharged) is of almost important. Again, you won’t be able to reused it once discharge since it won’t also supply enough energy (if any at all) to drive the system.
The alternator, which is the battery charger, works well if battery is not deeply discharged. If an alternator is used to charge a deeply discharged battery, it tends to overcharge it which may intern damage the batteries. This is the more reason why they are never used to charge an engine-starting battery as they quickly destroy the battery, reducing it life span by about 50% each time they are charge with an alternator.
Deep cycle batteries are charge in a special way especially when they have been deeply discharged. This special type of charging is called 3-step regulated charging. Only special smart battery chargers using computer technology can perform 3-step charging techniques.
Step 1: Bulk Charging
This is where up to 80 percent of the battery energy capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum current amp rating and voltage of the charger.
Step 2: Absorption Charge
This phase set in when the battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts. At this stage, voltage is kept constant at 14.4 volts and the current (amps) declines until the battery is 98% charged
Step 3: Float Step
The last step where the battery is fully (100%) charged or close to it. This is achieved by regulating the current at less than 1 amp and the voltage at not more than 13.4 volts. The float charge will not heat or boil batteries, but will maintain the batteries at 100% readiness and prevent cycling during long term inactivity.
Some AGM and gel cell batteries may require special settings or chargers for best charging.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Battery Testing
A battery can be tested in several ways with the most accurate method being the measurement of battery voltage and specific gravity. The battery voltage is measure with a digital D.C. Voltmeter and the specific gravity with a temperature-compensating hydrometer. A quality load tester may be good to test sealed batteries.
Before using any of the testing methods, start by getting the battery to full charge and then remove the surface charge. To surface charge is removed by discharging the battery for several minutes usually with the use of a headlight (high beam). After turning off the light, you’re ready to test the battery.
Another method of battery testing is Load testing. Load test removes amps (current) from a battery in much the same way as starting an engine would. You can get a load tester at most auto parts stores. A load test can only be performed on a battery that is near or at full charge.
Most battery companies label their battery with the amp load for testing. This number is generally half of the CCA rating. For example, a 400 CCA battery would load test at 200 amps for 15 seconds.
The following are some tips from the results of your testing:
Hydrometer readings should not vary more than 0.05 differences between cells.
Digital volt meters readings for the voltage should be as shown in this document. The gel cell and sealed AGM battery voltage at full charged will be slightly higher in the 12.8 to 12.9 range. A shorted cell is usually indicated by voltage meter voltage readings within 10.5 volt range.
The volt meter and load test are the only possible ways to test a maintenance-free wet cell. Maintenance-free batteries that come with a built in hydrometer (green/black window) generally give the condition of 1 of 6 cells. The problem with such reading is that, you may get a good reading from 1 cell but have a problem with other 5 cells in the battery.
Deep Cycle Battery Review: Golf Cart Battery
A golf cart deep cycle battery is one of the most versatile batteries readily available for either a cabin, small home or for someone just starting to live off the grid. Some may argue that these batteries have no place in the real world of energy storage, but it’s applicable in some situations can be relatively cost effective.
Also referred to as "golf cart" or "golf car" battery, they are produced with three cells as opposed to six in a starting battery. Also, vast majority of golf cart batteries are 6 volts batteries with a few 8 volt types. An 8 volt battery may be an advantage in a vehicle to reduce weight but for a renewable energy storage, a 6 volt will be more cost effective.
Features of a Golf Cart Deep Cycle Battery
Electric golf cart batteries operate purely on the power of deep cycle batteries. Below are the primary features of a deep cycle golf cart battery.
- They are designed to have higher density active paste material, thicker plates and thicker separators to be able to withstand the rigors of deep discharging and recharging cycles.
- Twin terminals, designed to simplify connection for primary power and accessories
- Easily handle for installation
- Advanced gel and AGM batteries have a spill proof design with casing engineered to withstand heat and vibration elements
Golf Cart Deep Cycle Battery Charging, Maintenance and Storage
Proper charging, maintenance and storing practices are just as important to the operation and life of your Golf Cart battery as selecting the right battery. Golf cart deep cycle batteries work best when the charge is maintained.
- Never store the battery in a discharged state.
- Never overcharge your golf cart deep cycle battery as it may damage them.
- If possible, use an automatic charger that turns itself off when a battery is fully charged.
- If you must use a manual charger, don't forget to turn it off. You may want to use an alarm clock or timer to remind you when the battery is fully charged.
- Charge your batteries every day that you use an electric golf cart if possible.
- Avoid driving the vehicle or using the motor until the battery dies completely. Lead-acid batteries won't last long when completely discharge.
- Take advantage of the waiting time (time between two driving sessions) to fully charge your golf cart battery. This gives you enough time to fully charge it before your next trip.
- For a longer life golf cart battery experience, consider a dual pro charger. The Dual Pro charger is a complete automated dependable charging system.
- Unlike most starting batteries units, a golf cart deep cycle battery precisely delivers the maximum charge every time. This particular property increases golf cart battery life by at least one-fifth hence you won't have to frequently charge or replace the batteries.
- Remember to clean your golf cart batteries and check the water level each month. This is essential to prevent damage by removing corrosion from the battery terminals.
- Use distilled water and pay attention to the water level markings when watering your battery. You can automate this process by using a battery watering system.
If you leave your golf cart deep cycle battery on for a long period of time, any light electronic device or bulb can harm it by fully discharging it. If this happened, you may have to jump-start a gas-powered cart. Remember to switch off the TV, radio, lights and other electrical accessories when you finish using them. Also, remember to always remove the key before leaving your golf cart.
Your driving techniques may also affect battery life of an electric golf carts. To achieve the most out of your batteries, avoid taking much load and climbing steep hills. Your passengers should not exceed the vehicle's recommended weight capacity. You may also want to use a truck or utility trailer to carry it if you need to move your golf cart a long distance.
If you follow all of these tips in this review, your golf cart deep cycle battery should last more than five years. Golf cart battery units with high amp capacities usually last longer. Hence you may be able to gain the ability to travel longer distances between charges. Whenever your golf cart's battery stops working, recycle it and purchase a quality replacement.
How to Install Golf Cart Batteries
Golf carts runs on batteries and are great for driving around the golf course. They also make handy maintenance vehicles for college campuses, office parks and apartment complexes. Sometimes these batteries need to be replaced (after used). The new ones are relatively easy to install.
In order to install or replaced a golf cart batter, you will need the following:
- Distilled water
- Baking soda
- Clean cloth
- Anticorrosion gel and Petroleum jelly
- Protective clothing
- Acid-proof gloves
You can then proceed with the process in the following steps:
Step 1: Open the compartment where the batteries (golf carts are powered by six batteries) are held. These batteries are usually mounted under the front seat.
Step 2: Start by disconnecting the negative cable first, followed by the positive. From the first battery's terminal, continue these steps in like manner for each battery in the compartment.
Step 3: Remove any brackets holding the batteries in and pull the batteries out one at a time.
Step 4: Next, clean the cables and clamps, preferably using a water solution of baking soda, and rinse them with water. Then wipe them dry with a clean cloth. Also clean and dry the battery compartment.
Step 5: Placed the new batteries in the dry compartment, in the same positions as the old ones. Keep the cables away from the battery terminals until you're finished.
Step 6: Lastly, reconnect the positive terminal on the first battery to the positive cable and the negative terminal to the negative cable. Continue in like manner to reconnect all the batteries terminals in the compartment. Put on the terminal, a thin coating of battery terminal anticorrosion gel or petroleum jelly.
Deep cycle batteries are used to power golf carts, small marine vehicles and others that run exclusively on battery power. They also run the many household devices contained in RVs.
Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates made of solid lead compared to those of their "starter battery" counterparts, which use a lead "sponge."
A deep cycle battery can normally be discharged of up to 80 percent of its capacity and then recharged without depleting its power over time.
A deep cycle battery can be used for a starter battery in a car. It can work even better that a normal battery for vehicles with several electronic devices.
How to Verify a Golf Cart for Bad Batteries
This test will work on either battery configuration (36v, 48v,). To be able to safely verify or check a golf cart for bad batteries, you will need the following tools:
- Volt meter
- Safety Glasses
- Safety Gloves
You can then proceed with the process in the following ways:
Start by charge you batteries. Most people make this mistake when trying to check batteries. Go ahead and give your cart the needed charge, if you have an automatic charger plug it in and let it finish. On the other hand, if you are using a manual charger, make sure you follow the charging instructions on the manufacturer’s manual.
This set your battery ready for an On-Charge Voltage Test.
Start by charging your cart again and with the charger still on, get your volt meter out and set it to 200v dc. Note that our goal is to be able to test or check individual battery voltages. Thus, start with the first or number 1 battery (where the positive lead goes to the cart) placing the positive lead of the voltmeter on battery positive and the negative lead of the voltmeter on battery negative. Continue in like manner down the line until the last battery recording your results.
For a 36v carts (having six 6v batteries), our goal is to obtain, for each battery, a reading of at least 7.0v while for a 48v carts (having six 8v batteries) out goad is a reading of at least 9.3v on each battery.
Judging from your record, for 36v carts, if any of the batteries read below 7.0v and not within 0.5v of any other battery in the set, replace that it. Also, for a 48v carts, any battery that record below 9.3v and it’s also not within 0.5v of any other battery in the set must be replace.
This test is the same for 36v and 48v battery sets. Unlike the On-charge voltage test, we do not need the charger on for a hydrometer test. Start by putting on your safety glasses and safety gloves, and remove all battery caps. Get your hydrometer out and start with the first or number 1 battery. Continue down the line until the last battery, recording your hydrometer reading for each battery.
Study your readings. You should have readings of 1100 to 1300, with 1100 being close to water and 1300 being acid. Starting with the first battery, if there is a difference of points greater or equals 50 between cells, it’s indicative of a bad battery and should be replaced.
Here is an example of a bad battery:
Here is an example of a good battery.
Your done replacing the bad batteries.
How to Rebuild a Golf Cart Deep Cycle Battery
A golf cart battery is a 12-volt battery with six 2-volt cells. Deep-cycle batteries contain lead acid which when left to sit for long periods, especially in bad weather, may results in battery damage.
After purchasing a new battery, it is recommended to pour additive into the terminals. This helps prolongs the life of the battery and get it ready for reconditioning in the future. Each battery also comes with a guaranteed lifespan; however, the manner of use, care and level of maintenance determines whether it reaches its full lifespan potential.
To successfully rebuild a golf cart deep cycle battery, you’ll most probably use the following:
- Safety goggles
- Distilled water
- Epsom Salt
- Three-phase charger
- Nonmetallic container
- Rubber gloves
You can go on with the rebuilding process in the following ways:
Dress in complete safety attire with rubber gloves, rubber apron and goggles.
Work in a well-ventilated area and close to a continuous water source because a lot of water is required to dilute the acid of the battery.
Take the terminal cables off the battery and remove them from the golf cart. Set the battery on a work bench.
Pry off the cell caps on the battery. You may need to use a screwdriver for the prying process depending on the amount of corrosion.
Turn the water source on and empty the contents of the battery into a container that is made of rubber or plastic (not metal).
Make sure you have your safety gear on properly.
By pouring the water into the container, rinse out the battery cells with running water.
Make a solution of Epsom Salt and distilled water in another container at a ratio of 7 ounces Epsom Salt to 1 quart distilled water. Make sure you use only distilled water for this process because it is free of minerals that cause corrosion in batteries. Stir well to completely dissolve the Epsom Salt.
Pour the solution into the battery cells, ensuring that each cell has the same amount of liquid.
Connect a three-phase charger to the rebuilt golf cart battery and leave charging overnight.
Place the rebuilt battery back into the golf cart, reconnecting the battery terminals.
After using the golf cart for a week, reattach the golf cart deep cycle battery to the three-phase battery charger and leave it until a complete charge is accepted.
How to Refurbish a Golf Cart Deep Cycle Battery
Most golf carts batteries are 6-volt lead-acid batteries, which are often small versions of car batteries. However, golf carts batteries usually don't last as long as they could. This is generally due to improper storage or negligent usage. There are a good number of things, including reconditioning the batteries you can do to make a golf cart deep cycle battery last longer. You also can reduce problems by making sure all electrical devices on the cart are turned off when it is not in use.
Things to use for this process consist of:
- Battery charger
- Crescent wrench
- Safety glasses
- Protective gloves
- Distilled water
- Epsom salts
- Baking soda
Use a lead-acid batteries charger that has the capability of automatically switching to low (trickle) charge when the battery is fully charged. You may also use a low-power 6-volt solar battery charger.
Charge the battery whenever you won't use for several days or weeks or whenever it may be depleted.
Remove the golf cart battery to charge it, using a crescent wrench to loosen the battery’s cables.
Using a mixture of water and baking soda, clean any deposits around the battery terminals and cables. If the battery is not a sealed, remove the cell caps and top them off with distilled water.
Never use or put tap water with battery because it contains chemicals that may damage the battery, reducing its performance and shorten its life.
Turn the charger off while you connect the power leads (make sure negative to negative and positive is connected to positive). Set the charger according to manufacturer's instructions and turn it on.
After charging has been completed, turn off the charger, remove the battery, and replace it in the golf cart or store it.
Make sure to store a golf cart deep cycle battery properly.
While lead-acid batteries hold electric energy (charge) well, they will drain or discharge when left to sit on the shelf for long period. Such discharge may leads to it being deeply discharged (something that must be avoided). If you want to leave a golf cart battery for long period without use, it may be best to connect it to a small solar-power charger or to a regular charger set on trickle charger.
If using a trickle charger isn't possible, you may be required to regularly charge the battery every couple of weeks.
Reconditioning lead-acid golf cart batteries help to extend their useful life. The lead plates in a golf cart deep cycle battery may become sulphated even with proper maintenance but it’s also relatively easy to fix.
Remove the battery from the golf cart. Before charging, drain the fluid from the battery and replace it with a mixture of 12 percent to 15 percent magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) and distilled water and recharge the battery.
This should be able to remedy any sulphated plates and resume battery to normal function. Although you may also have to recharge it a couple of times to bring it back to full storage capacity.
Note also that reconditioning a battery won't work more than a few times because the lead pates usually suffer damage from the sulphation.
How to Store an Electric Golf Cart
When putting your electric golf cart out of use for a long period, it’s important to store it properly. This helps to store the energy in the golf cart and ensures that your golf cart will be ready and available for you in the same condition as you left it. Skipping or not paying attention on any one of the steps below may result in damage to your cart. The procedure may seem tedious, but you will reap the rewards when you are ready to use your cart again.
To properly store your golf cart battery, you will need the following:
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 1 gallon water
- Old paintbrush or toothbrush
Storing an Electric Golf Cart
Find a sheltered place in which to store the golf cart. This helps in protecting your golf cart from the elements of nature.
Clean the batteries, fastened tightly all the cell, unplug the charger and clean the battery area.
Spray the battery with a mixture of water and baking soda (a neutralizer) on the top and between the batteries and clean the inside walls of the body panels.
Use a toothbrush or paintbrush to clean thoroughly, cleaning and scrubbing the smaller areas of the battery compartment.
Do an overall check of the battery compartment. Ensuring all the cable connections is secure and tight.
Carefully wiggle the cables forth and back; making sure they are not be too close.
Next, check the level of water in the cells and where possible, use distilled water to fill the cells past the plates if in warm climate.
If the golf cart battery is being stored in cold temperatures, fill the cells with a little water only. This will help prevent freezing.
Lastly, charge the battery. A fully charged battery will not freeze unless it is cold to 60 degrees below zero whereas a discharged battery can freeze at just 20 degrees below zero. This is due to the fact that, when a battery is at the discharges state, the acid turns to water which freezes faster.
Do not overcharge the battery in any situation.
Golf Cart Deep Cycle Battery Buying Tips
Batteries which use a gas and electric carts differ regarding how they work.
Those working on gas carts work in exactly the same way as that on a car while those on electric cars have to be plugged in after every one or two days after use to recharge fully.
Generally, you’ill need to recharge an electric cart battery more often, but it’s less expensive and not really a hassle if you can charge it after each use.
If you’re trying to get a battery, there are several things you have to consider.
The first point to consider is the life cycle before replacement. The general rule is that, the higher the cycle number, the longer the battery will last. Don’t buy any battery that is less than a 600 life cycle because these deep cycle batteries are relatively inexpensive.
When searching to buy a battery, you’re going to come across stuff like minutes and amps. This refers to the lifespan of a single charge.
For example, if the battery is advertised at 500 minutes at 20 amps, it means the battery is going to last 500 minutes when used at 20 amps. If you decide to use this batter at higher amps, which is possible, but will result in shorten life per charge.
Keep in mind also that a battery life is affected by the number of components and accessories you use on the golf battery. For a bare bones operation the batteries are going to last a long time, but if you use TV, DVD players, GPS, radio etc. the battery drains faster.
If you are buying a golf cart battery for the first time, bear in mind the following:
Compare different prices of the batteries on different websites: This is simple for you to get the best at a relative cheaper rate. The cost of most item has gone down considerably over the past few years so expect good deals on various websites.
Buy only from reputable vendors: You can visit their official websites, read previous customers review or feedbacks, and get the latest details about the batteries. Don’t hesitate to ask the website questions about the batteries they’re selling.
Read the shipping cost, warranty, delivery period and other details before purchasing: This may not be a problem with established retailers, but for others, it’s important, to avoid paying for hidden charges.
Once you have made your choice of battery carefully read the instruction manual that came with it and strictly follow the directions for usage and any tips given there to extend its lifespan. It’s important you take care of these batteries to extend their life.
Battery Safety, Explosions and other Hazards
Most battery explosions are caused by the misuse or malfunction of a battery, such as short circuiting a battery or attempting to recharge a non-rechargeable battery.
Explosions often occur when a short circuit resulted to or generates very large currents. In addition, deep cycle batteries release hydrogen when they are overcharged. Normally the gas dissipates quickly but also easily be ignited by a nearby spark (e.g. when removing the jumper cables). On the other hand, hydrogen gas isn’t a problem with lithium-ion batteries.
By attempting to charge a battery beyond its electrical capacity (overcharging), may lead to a battery leakage, irreversible damage, or explosion of a deep cycle battery. Not only that, it may also cause damage to the electrical components in which the overcharged battery is used.
When a conventional battery (car starting battery) is recharged at an excessive rate, an explosive gas mixture of hydrogen and oxygen may be produced faster than it can escape from within the walls of the battery, leading to pressure build-up and the possibility of the battery case bursting (exploding).
In extreme cases, the acid may spray violently through the casing of the battery, cause severe injury.
Deep cycle batteries may also explosions in maintenance if the valves are blocked or fail. This cause pressure rise within the cells until maybe a short circuit ignites the hydrogen-oxygen mixture. The resulting explosions can cause severe injury. Such problems can be detected in most batteries if the battery feels hot to touch or if the sides appear swollen.
Battery Tips for Best Performance
The following tips are true for all battery types and should be regarded as the tool for best practise and improved battery performance, not forgetting your safety.
- Stay with one battery chemistry (gel, AGM or flooded). Each battery type requires specific charging voltages. Avoid the mixing battery types which can result in under- or over-charging. Also, its best practice to change all batteries at the same time.
- Regulate charge voltages based on battery acceptance and temperature (manually or automated) to maximize battery life and reduce charge time. Make sure the charging system is capable of generating sufficient amperage to charge battery banks efficiently. This means using an alternator with 25% to 40% as many amperes as the capacity of your entire battery bank.
- Keep batteries clean, cool and dry.
- Never mix new batteries with old ones in the same bank. This may seems like there would increase the resulting capacity, old batteries instead tend to pull down the new batteries to their deteriorated level.
- Regularly check terminal connectors to avoid loss of conductivity.
- To flooded lead acid batteries, add distilled water as needed and keep them charged.
- Clean corrosion with a paste of water and baking soda.