Effective Maintenance Tips For Deep-cycle Flooded Batteries
Edition: May/June 2012
One of the most important maintenance practices to sustaining the health of a golf car’s deep-cycle flooded battery is watering. Very often this is overlooked which can have devastating results on the performance and life of a deep-cycle battery and, consequently, severely impact your day of running errands or on the golf course.
While watering sounds like a simple task, there are several things you should know when watering deep-cycle flooded batteries. Safety is always the most important consideration. Whenever working with batteries be sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and protective clothing to prevent any possible contact with the battery’s electrolyte which is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water.
A deep-cycle flooded battery will lose water during charging, so it is important to replenish the water that is lost. The frequency as to how often batteries need to be watered will depend on use and application. Therefore, it is recommended that the electrolyte levels of batteries be monitored every two weeks until the frequency can be determined for your particular application.
Distilled water is recommended because it contains no impurities which can reduce battery life or impact its performance. You should never add acid to cells since batteries come with all of the acid they batteries need. Once electrolyte is lost, it can never be replaced and the battery will not have the proper amount of sulfate needed for good performance and long life. That is why proper watering is very important.
The proper maximum water level is 1/8” below the bottom of the fill well. It is important not to overfill the cell, since during charging the electrolyte levels will rise and if they are overfilled the electrolyte may come out of the batteries. This will reduce the life of the battery and effect its operation. You should never let the electrolyte level go below the battery plates which will damage the plates and significantly impact the overall performance of the battery.
It’s also important to note that water should only be added to batteries that are fully charged. Never add water to discharged batteries. The only exception is if the plates are exposed. In this case, add just enough water to cover the plates. Then after charging, add enough water to bring the electrolyte to the proper level.
Watering batteries can sometimes be messy and difficult, so single-point watering systems have been designed to make the job easier. Trojan’s HydroLinkTM is one of the products available on the market today to simplify the job of watering flooded batteries. The HydroLink manifold replaces the current vents on selected Trojan batteries and features tubing which is used to connect the group of batteries in the golf car. The tubing is then easily connected to a water source and will deliver the proper amount of water to the batteries, filling a set of batteries in less than 30 seconds. Please note that HydroLink is not available for use with Trojan’s Plus Series batteries.
Another important maintenance practice to keep flooded batteries operating at optimum levels is performing equalization. Equalization is an overcharge of flooded batteries after they’ve been fully charged to address imbalanced cells and prevent stratification from undercharging which will harm the batteries. Stratification occurs when the electrolyte concentration is greater at the bottom of the battery than the top which will corrode the battery plates and eventually destroy the batteries.
It also is important to periodically clean and tighten battery connections. Before cleaning, be sure all vent caps are completely installed and tightened to ensure no cleaning solution enters the battery cells. Clean the top of the battery, terminals, and battery wires with a solution of one cup of baking soda and one gallon of water using a wire brush. When completed, rinse with water and dry all areas. Next ensure all connections are tightened being careful not to under tighten which can cause terminal meltdown, or over tighten which can result in terminal breakage. Be sure to refer to your user’s guide to determine proper torque values for your specific battery model. Once these processes are complete, thinly coat all connections with an anti-corrosion spray or silicone gel to the terminals to resist corrosion.
Regardless of what battery technology you choose to meet your particular requirements, always be sure to read the battery manufacturer’s user’s guide which should provide important information on proper maintenance practices.
Please visit Trojan Battery’s Web site to view Trojan Tips our new video tutorial series which will provide detailed information on various battery technologies and other useful battery maintenance information.