Battery banks are becoming a popular choice for off-grid power however there are a plethora of mistakes being made in the maintenance of these battery banks. Here are the top 5 mistakes I am finding.
1) Over discharging your batteries.
Batteries use chemical reactions to produce power. During recharging, the chemical reaction is reversed. Over discharging a battery can make the reactions permanent. A good guideline is to only use 70% to 50% of your batteries capacity also referred to as the Depth of Discharge. If you use your batteries daily, a 50% Depth of Discharge is appropriate for you. Whereas, a weekend use or occasional use system you can maintain your battery life with a 70% DOD or Depth of Discharge.
2) Not letting your Batteries come to a Full Charge.
When you consume the power stored in your batteries you will need to recharge them. However, a point that is often overlooked is allowing the batteries to come back to a full charge. This means you may have to let your battery sit for a day or several days in order to insure they hit that full charge. Remember that the process of discharging and recharging the battery is a chemical process. By denying your battery a chance to fully charge you are reducing your battery's capacity, effectively shortening its life.
3) Equalizing your Batteries too Often (For Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries)
A common practice is to equalize your batteries once a month. Unfortunately, this is not required. In fact, when you equalize your batteries you are, in affect, overheating them. While this is a necessary step to "clean" your battery, too much heat will again shorten battery life. In reality, a maintained battery bank only requires 2-3 equalizations per year.
4) Throwing Out a Dead Battery.
Why would you keep a dead battery? The truth is that a dead battery might not be lifeless. Just because batteries are not taking a charge does not mean they can’t be reconditioned. Sometimes a battery can be recovered by setting the float voltage a little higher than normal. Reconditioning a battery can take a few days up to a few months. However, if you are dependent on your battery bank, this tip is indispensable.
5) Not letting your Batteries Breathe (For Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries)
You must vent your batteries. During the process of discharging, the batteries release hydrogen gas. While this is not enough to cause a massive explosion it is enough to destroy your batteries and anything near them. It is critical that your batteries are properly vented to breathe.
Take care of your batteries, and they will take care of you.