Deep cycle batteries are designed to give you stable power output for an extended time. Here’s how to make the most of this amazing battery in South Africa.
What is a deep cycle battery?
“Deep cycle” is not necessarily a single battery type, but rather a term used to describe various batteries that can undergo frequent full charges and a subsequent deep discharge. This means they deliver 80% to 100% of their power over an extended period of time, giving you consistent and stable power supply.
This contrasts the way other types of batteries work. A car battery, for example, is designed to give users a quick burst of power to help start the engine. There are different types of batteries, such as a lead-acid battery or lithium-ion battery, that can be considered “deep cycle”.
How does it work?
The design of deep cycle batteries is adapted to withstand repeated charging and discharging cycles. They use denser active material and thicker battery plates. Thicker plates help the battery life last longer.
These plates are also solid lead instead of sponge, giving less surface area. This means less instant power such as that in a starter battery, but also allows this battery to discharge 80% of its power over and over. Even though they can discharge up to 100% of their power, manufacturers often recommend that the charge level not be dropped below 45% on a regular basis.
What are the uses of this type of battery?
Because these batteries are lightweight, quick to charge, and long-lasting, they’re ideal for a wide range of uses. Lithium-ion technology is often used in marine applications, such as watercraft. Deep cycle applications are vast because they give users sustained energy levels.
One of the biggest and most popular applications is to use deep cycle batteries for solar power storage. They act as a large solar battery bank, storing the energy you collect via solar panels but do not use. Then, on a rainy day, you can use the power in this battery to power your home.
People use these batteries in recreational vehicles, golf cars, forklifts, and other commercial applications, too. They can handle many discharge cycles and the rate of discharge is stable enough to rely on for long periods. This is ideal for solar systems and backup power systems.
Explore our deep cycle solar battery options today to find the ideal solution for your off-grid power system.
How to charge a deep cycle battery?
The way you charge it makes a major difference to the battery life. While lead-acid batteries need to be charged in multiple sessions to reach their full capacity, lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in just one session.
A dead battery is never good, because it means it has lost all its charge. The chemical reaction inside can result in reduced battery capacity. When using a battery that is frequently completely discharged, you may notice it does not reach its original capacity. For this reason, you should aim to charge the battery fully whenever the need arises.
How to extend the life of a deep cycle battery?
Proper charging plays a big role in extending your battery’s life. Regular maintenance is also important. You can enjoy continuous power for longer by applying the below steps.
1. Avoid opportunity charging.
“Opportunity charging” means plugging the battery in whenever you feel like it for bursts of time throughout the day but not letting it charge fully. Instead of charging the battery here and there whenever you get a chance, you can extend its life by giving it a change to charge in a full cycle every day.
This conditions the battery, preventing sulfation damage to the plates. A battery that is properly conditioned holds its charge better, and the battery life does not deteriorate as fast. Preserve the cycle life of your battery by avoiding opportunity charging.
2. Know when it needs to charge.
You can protect your battery by learning about its depth of discharge specs. If you discharge it to 80% of its capacity, but always recharge it to 100%, you can generally expect to get 220 complete cycles of use out of it. If, however, you only discharge it to 50% each time before charging it, you could get 750 complete cycles!
The thing is, constantly charging it could also damage it. One should not charge it after only 10% of the load has been discharged, for example. It’s all about charging at the right time. Not too much, and not too little. In this way, you can vastly extend your battery’s life.
3. Keep it at optimum ambient operating temperature.
Keep it in a location that is room temperature and dry. Battery temperature plays a big role in the rate of discharge and longevity of the device. Battery manufacturers suggest avoiding freezing temperatures and extreme heat. Batteries stored in extreme freezing temperatures or heat break down much faster.
4. Use the best storage & maintenance.
When you aren’t using it, it’s best to keep it fully charged. Many batteries have a slow self-discharge, but deep cycle solar batteries often only have a 2-5% discharge when not in use. Battery maintenance, in this case, means checking to see how much charge it is holding while not in use. If its self-discharge level is high, it may mean you need to replace some cells.
5. Use a slow charging method.
You can extend your battery life by charging it as slowly as possible. Charging it overnight is an excellent example, or if you use it for solar power, charging it during the day to use at night. This benefits your battery’s internal components and is preferable to only charging it for a few hours at a time. Rapid charging often increases the internal temperature, which is why you should avoid it if you want your battery to last longer.
What deep cycle battery do I need?
The type you need depends on its application. You can also look at the key factor list below:
- Type. You can choose between lead-acid deep cycle batteries and AGM batteries, Gelled Electrolyte (or gelled batteries), and Flooded (or wet cell batteries).
- Size. Its physical size can influence things if you need it for applications where lightweight, small-sized batteries are ideal.
- Rate of Discharge. The rates of discharge can be significant, because larger batteries may give you longer periods of sustained power use.
- Amp-Hour Capacity or Charge Efficiency. Different size batteries give you different volumes of power or kilowatt hours. If you need more power, you may need a larger size. A 20-hour discharge when in use may be ideal for your needs if you want to use it for solar in your home.
- The Green Factor. Environmentally, lithium-ion batteries are much safer and cleaner.
- Charge Time. The time it takes to fully charge may matter, depending on what you want to use it for.
- Shelf Life. Some batteries have a longer shelf life than others because of their size, the materials they are made of, their maximum voltage, and their durability in cold temperatures (etc). Longer-lasting options are ideal for electric systems that need constant voltage and are used routinely.
Battery companies can help you find the right one for your needs. Battery life and performance are key when you want to use a deep cycle battery for solar. You can speak to us about solar battery solutions and the proper care of your battery.