Batteries Maintenance

How to Maintain Lead Acid Battery?

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Lead Acid batteries are widely used in Automobiles, Inverters, Backup power systems etc. Unlike Tubular and Maintenance free batteries, Lead Acid batteries require proper care and maintenance to prolong its life. The Lead Acid battery consists of a series of plates kept immersed in Sulphuric acid solution. The plates have Grids on which the active material is attached. The plates are separated into positive and negative plates. The positive plates contain pure lead as the active material while lead oxide is attached on the negative plates.

To make connections, all the positive plates are serially connected and the end comes out as the positive terminal. Similarly, all the negative plates are connected together and connected to the negative terminal. Starting or Cranking also known as the SLI (Starting Light Ignition) battery delivers heavy current to start the engine in automobiles and generators. These have more plates compared to other Lead Acid batteries. Deep cycle batteries are designed for many charge / discharge cycles and have thicker plates.

A fully charged battery can discharge its current when connected to a load. During the process of discharge, the sulphuric acid combines with the active materials on the positive and negative plates resulting in the formation of Lead sulphate. During this process, the hydrogen atoms from the sulphuric acid react with oxygen to form water. This results in the release of electrons from the positive plates which will be accepted by the negative plates. This leads to the formation of an electric potential across the battery. The electrolyte in the Lead Acid battery is a mixture of Sulphuric acid and water which has a particular specific gravity. Specific gravity is the weight of the acid-water mixture compared to equal volume of water. The specific gravity of pure ions free water is 1.

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Inside the battery, there are array of Cells which is known as the battery. In a 12 volt battery, there are six cells each rated 2 volts. The Current delivering capacity of the Lead Acid battery is usually represented as Ah (Ampere hour). One Ah is equal to 3600 coulombs charge. Ah is the ability of the battery to provide 1 ampere current in 1 hour. Thus a 100 Ah battery can give 1 ampere current for 100 hours. The battery rating is based on the discharge rate through the load for a specific time. For example, a 100Ah battery discharges at the rate of 5 amperes for 20 hours. The battery cycle is defined as one complete discharge and recharge cycle. This cycle is usually the discharge from its 100 percent charge to 20 percent charge then recharging from 20 percent to 100 percent. The battery can be made healthy if it is discharged and recharged regularly. Deep discharge to 50 percent and recharge again to 100 percent daily will increase the battery life. So it is better to discharge and recharge the Inverter and emergency battery daily or at least once in two days. Daily starting and charging the automobile battery increases it life.

BATTERY-PLATES

Water topping is another important aspect of battery maintenance. When the battery discharges and recharges, heavy chemical reactions takes place which generates heat. This evaporates the water inside the battery and the specific gravity of the electrolyte changes. So it is necessary to top up the battery using ions free distilled water, if the water level drops below the required level. Do not add excess water since it may short the battery plates. If the battery is not used, self discharge takes place @ 4 percent per week. For example the 125 Ah Inverter battery self discharges at the rate of 5 amps current per week if is not allowed to discharge through the load.

To maintain the battery in good condition, battery equalization is necessary. Due to aging, all the cells do not charge equally and some cells accept charge very fast while others charge slowly. Equalization can be done by slightly over charging the battery to allow the weaker cells also to charge fully. The terminal voltage of a fully charged 12 volt Automobile battery shows 13.8 volts in its terminals while a 12 volt Tubular battery will show 14.8 volts.

Sulphation is another factor affecting the battery efficiency. During discharge, Lead sulphate will be formed, which will accumulate on the plates. This prevents charge release and acceptance. But these lead sulphate crystals will be removed during water topping and charging, so it is better to charge immediately after filling the water. If too much lead sulphate accumulates, de-sulphation using a De-sulphator unit (It provides current pulses to remove the lead sulphate crystals) is necessary. The Lead sulphate can also be removed by removing the electrolyte from the battery followed by cleaning with distilled water and filling with fresh acid water.

6 Conditions and Reasons for Battery Damage

The following conditions can damage the battery or reduces its life

  1. Over charging – When the battery is over charged, its voltage increases above the Gassing voltage which generates excess hydrogen. This happens if one or more cells are damaged. The weak cell will complete its charging only slowly due to its low resistance. Battery also heat up due to this.
  2. Battery shorting- If the cells are shorted with excess water or terminal shorting accidentally.
  3. Self discharge – If the battery is not discharged / charged for long time
  4. Sulphation – Accumulation of Lead sulphate on the plates and Grid damage
  5. Capacity loss – Due to reduced water level, sulphation and improper charging
  6. Grid corrosion and Dendrite formation – Accumulation and growth of Lead sulphate crystals on the plates
  7. Excess heat- Over charging with excess current

How to Maintain Laptop Battery?

Laptop Battery

Battery is the essential part of the Laptop since it is a portable device. In the absence of AC availability, the battery should backup the Laptop for a desirable time to do the work. Usually, the backup time ranges between 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours depending on the maker of the Laptop and its battery. NiCd batteries are the oldest technology and are the least commonly used now days due to its memory effect and its non Eco-friendly nature. NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries and Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) batteries are now commonly used in Laptops due to their better performance and charge retaining property. They are also devoid of toxic chemicals like Cadmium and less prone to Memory effect. More over the power to weight ratio of these batteries is higher than that of the NiCd batteries. Li-Ion batteries outperform other batteries because they do not have the tendency to lose charge quickly towards the end of their life span. By properly maintaining the Laptop batteries it is possible to increase its life span.

4 Best Tips to Buy Laptop Battery:

  1. Identify the part number, make and model of the battery first. Use only the make as one used in the Laptop at the time of its purchase.
  2. Most laptops require Li-Ion Battery chemistry, so try to use Li-Ion battery.
  3. Capacity of the battery is the most important aspect which is the run time battery capacity quantifies the total energy stored in the battery. It is represented as mAh ( Milli Ampere Hour). So check the battery capacity before its purchase and confirm its capacity as shown in the original battery of the Laptop. You can increase the capacity to get more backup time if required.
  4. Voltage is another factor that is to be considered. For the Laptop batteries the common voltage measurements are 7.2V, 9.6V, 10.8V, 11.1V, 14.4V, 18.2V, 22 V etc. Use one exactly similar to the voltage requirements of the Laptop.

18 ways to increase Laptop Battery Life?

  1. De-fragment the Hard drive regularly to make it faster. This increases the efficiency of the hard drive and decreases the power consumption.
  2. Use the Dim mode in its lowest range so as to reduce the brightness of the screen. This considerably reduces the power consumption. If the CPU Fan control is available, reduce it to minimum.
  3. Reduce the programmes running in the back ground. They will run at boot up and will increase the CPU load and battery consumption.
  4. Deactivate the programmes running automatically, when the Laptop is using in battery.
  5. Reduce the number of external devices connected to the battery when using in battery power. For example, USB devices, WiFi etc. These devices are powered by the Laptop and use the battery power considerably.
  6. Increase the RAM of the Laptop by adding an additional RAM which allows to process more and fast rather than relying on virtual memory. Virtual memory increases the hard drive use and increases the power consumption. But the use of additional RAM will increases the power consumption slightly, so use only if memory intensive programmes are used.
  7. Reduce the use of CD drive when the Laptop is in battery power.
  8. Do not store much data especially Audio and Video files in the Desktop since it is running in C drive. Save data in other drives.
  9. Clean the drives to remove unnecessary files using the Disk cleaner option in the Performance and Maintenance of the Control panel.
  10. Always keep the battery contacts clean. Inspect the battery once in a month. If the contacts are dirty, clean it with sand paper or file.
  11. Do not keep the charged battery for long time without using. Once charged, it should be used at least once every two to three weeks.
  12. Hibernate the Laptop when not in use so that, it can be run very quickly and avoids the boot up.
  13. Laptop runs smoothly when it is cool. The heat vent is placed on the sides and back. So place the Laptop in a well ventilated place during use.
  14. Optimize the Power option through the control panel option. Select maximum battery for maximum effect.
  15. Do only one thing at a time when the Laptop is running in battery. For example avoid combining the job of Typing and browsing. Stop all other programmes and do only one at a time.
  16. Avoid playing games and playing a DVD in battery power.
  17. Stop the auto save option of Word and Excel while running the Laptop in battery. Since the auto save is working at regular intervals, it increases the hard drive activity and increases the power consumption.
  18. Reduce the use of Graphic in the Laptop while running in battery. Graphic and Video cards use much power similar to the Hard drive.

I hope you have got an idea about the topic of maintenance of batteries if you have any furthermore queries on this topic or from the concepts of the electrical and electronic projects leave the comments below.

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