The most common reasons for Premature Battery Failure:
1. Low water levels
· From our experience, this is the number one cause of battery failure.
· Charging batteries that are as little as 1” low on water can cause damage to the entire battery that can never be repaired. It dries and burns the uppermost portion of the “plates”, causing high resistance that is permanent, and effectively isolates the portion that remained submerged.
· Even when the proper water levels are restored, the damaged portion continues to cause high resistance and the battery runs much hotter from that point forward, causing accelerated water loss and further plate damage due to overheating.
2. Over Charging and Opportunity Charging
· Industrial batteries are typically designed to last at least 1,500 charge cycles, over a five-year period. Each time you charge a battery, regardless of how long, it constitutes one cycle.
· Consistently charging a battery twice per day, during lunch breaks for example, is known as Opportunity Charging, and reduces the useful life of a battery by 50%.
· The additional heat generated by opportunity charging a battery usually reduces the run time equal or greater in proportion to the amount of charge it actually received, making the practice completely ineffective and costly.
· Routinely charging the battery before it is 80% discharged is another common form of overcharging. For example, if you only use the battery a few hours a day, it’s best to use it until it is truly in need of charging before actually plugging it in. Remember, each charge constitutes one cycle, so try not to charge unnecessarily.
3. Over watering
· Commonly occurs as a reaction to low water levels, but is a major problem unto itself.
· Flushes the electrolyte from the cells and gradually dilutes the acid to the point that the battery can no longer function properly. In many cases this can be remedied sending the battery out to have the acid adjusted, but the battery’s life will still be shortened somewhat.
· Causes tray corrosion
4. Failing to Equalize Charge
· Batteries should receive an Equalize Charge once every 2 weeks.
· Almost all chargers are equipped with an Equalize feature. On older chargers, this setting is usually referred to as Weekend or Weekly charge.
· Selecting this setting adds 3 additional hours to a normal charge, ensuring all of the cells in the battery reach full charge, and the allowing extra time for the electrolyte to mix during the Gassing Stage.
· Failure to equalize causes reduced battery run time and eventual failure, due to Sulfation, Stratification, and an imbalanced capacity between the cells.
· Batteries should be rinsed or washed at least once per year to prevent corrosion.
· Even when the proper water levels are consistently maintained, acid vapors escape during charge. These vapors leave an oily acid residue on the top of the battery around the vent caps. Over time, the water in the residue evaporates leaving full strength, concentrated acid that is much more concentrated than the diluted acid inside the battery.
· The concentrated acid is very conductive. As it gradually accumulates and spreads out, it eventually makes contact between the intercell connectors across the top of the battery. This results in shorting between the cells, causing the battery to self-discharge, and additional heat during charge and use.
· Even though battery trays have a baked on powder coat finish, they will easily corrode if the residue is not rinsed off. The corrosion will become progressively worse until it is either removed, or it destroys the battery.
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