Batteries are a major cost in many projects, most notably are solar energy projects, so getting the longest life possible out of your batteries is a major concern.
So knowing how to care for your batteries is a must, this care will determine if they last a few months or many years.
The most important of these tasks is the maintenance, charge and discharge rates, and average state of charge.
Most batteries need to be kept as close as possible to full charge or they suffer damage. Lead acid batteries if not kept at full charge will suffer permanent damage. But lead acid batteries charge slowly and in a working solar system will always be a bit under charged due to the fact that they just don't have the time to fully charge before being used as night comes.
Also the depth of discharge will dramatically determine the life of the battery. A lead acid battery that is only discharged 10% per cycle will have thousands of cycles before losing capacity where if that discharge rate is brought up to 90% discharge the battery will only have a few hundred, if that, cycles before going bad.
Most batteries are like produce, they go bad if left out on the shelf too long. Lead acid batteries, the most commonly used battery for solar systems, along with most other types of batteries, go bad because they self discharge over time. This leaves the battery in a discharged state that causes chemical reactions within the battery that will cause permanent damage over time.
Each type of battery will have precautions stated by the manufacturer of the battery that must be adhered to or damage to the battery will occur.
The tools needed when buying a battery is a VOM or volt meter.
The date the battery was manufactured and the voltage of the battery need to be noted. If the battery is too old, damage may have already occurred, and to check if damage has occurred the voltage needs to be check before buying the battery. The type of battery, you are buying, will determine the voltage you should read. When buying a new lead acid battery, for example, the terminals will have a plastic cover but there will be a tiny hole at the top of the plastic cover for checking the voltage.
To find the date of the battery will depend on the type of battery you are buying. Lead acid batteries have a hot brand(like a cattle brand) on the case, usually on the top of the battery case. There will be a letter and a number, for example G4. The letters a-l indicate the month, where a is 1 or January and l is December, and the number is the last number of the year. In the case of G4, the date is, July 2014.
When buying a lead acid battery the voltage should not be less than 12.66, anything less than that could indicate the battery has problems. But you may find that most batteries in chain stores are less than that because they sell the good batteries to other dealers for re-branding.
The links below will lead you to information concerning the various types of batteries and conditions.
Links to Pages with Information About Batteries
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