For large-scale installations requiring multiple VRLA batteries, a common concern is how to maximise battery service life in order to reduce maintenance time and replacement costs.
There are a number of basic things you can do to extend the life of a larger VRLA battery system, such as a 48V1000Ah energy storage system, including:
- Keeping the batteries in a cool environment between 20°C and 25°C (Related: What are the effects of temperature on VRLA batteries?)
- Occasionally (every 6 months) check the tightness of the connection bolts
- Ensure the batteries are being regularly recharged
It is also good practice to use a Battery Equaliser to further extend the life of your VRLA batteries.
Why should I use a battery equaliser?
What has been found to happen in larger battery systems, where the batteries have been in use for a few months, is that the impedance of individual cells may change.
This results in a variation of charge. So in a 48V system where you have 24 x 2 Volt Cells, these can typically change to 2.15V each.
A change in the impedance of individual cells is often caused by a multitude of factors such as aging, manufacturing variation or temperature variations in the stack.
If you check each cell without an equaliser being used, you may get a variation of up to 1.0V between the lowest and the highest reading. This means that the cell with a potential of 3.0V is being overcharged and that at 2.0V is under-charged.
True to its name, a battery equaliser is designed to even out the voltage. It works by taking the excess energy from the higher voltage cell and dispensing it into the lower voltage cell.
As a result, BOTH cells are cared for and battery life is extended.
There are several models of equalisers available. For example, a 16-channel unit would look after 16 cells this way. For the 48V1000Ah system mentioned, 2 x 16 channel equalisers would be needed – good enough for 32 cells.
An equaliser is useful in applications where a 12V appliance is attached to one of the batteries in a 24V string to ensure the system does not become unbalanced.
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