How to Prolong Your Battery’s Lifespan: Fighting Off Battery Sulfation

Activate your truck, golf cart or industrial machine with a battery in tow, and you know that power might be an issue one day. Lead-acid batteries are the workhorses of the industry for the most part.

They’re reliable to a certain degree – however.

LA batteries have an enemy hidden within their basic design: sulfation. By understanding sulfation, you can avoid most frustrations with a dying or outright dead battery. Chemical reactions within the battery are both amazing and frustrating at the same time.

The chemical environment

Sulfuric acid and lead make up the bulk of a standard, lead-acid battery. As you apply electricity to the battery, the electrolytes within the liquid become excited. They essentially mix together. A fully charged battery has electrolytes that are constantly moving and releasing electrons, which allows the power to steadily flow from the battery and into your vehicle or other machine.

Sulfation occurs in every battery, states Iota Engineering. It’s natural for some sulfate to emerge from the chemical processes and adhere to the battery’s internal plates. However, too much sulfation creates power problems that are quickly observed by any user. Avoiding excess sulfation is the key.

Your charging behavior

Everyone is guilty of not properly charging their batteries. You don’t have time to adhere to the “perfect” charge. For lead-acid batteries, between 14 and 16 hours are necessary for a good charge, reports Battery University. Most people only give the battery an overnight charge of around seven or eight hours. If a “perfect” charge is possible with each session, sulfation doesn’t occur on a prolific level.

If your LA battery is in a vehicle, your charging patterns are different. Once the vehicle is running, the battery is under a charge throughout the drive. This scenario works perfectly for truckers and long-distance drivers. Taking short drives on a regular basis, however, creates sulfation that will decrease the battery’s lifespan.

Symptoms of the “dying” battery

Because no one can charge a battery to its exact needs every time, it will decline at a constant rate. Consider these symptoms produced by your battery when its life is nearly over, such as:

  • Decreased running times
  • Reduced power to your load
  • Excessive charging times to fully saturate the cells

These symptoms tend to sneak up on you because they’re progressive. The charging times are slow in their demise, but they are quantifiable. Consider your charging habits and the battery’s age. A replacement may be necessary in the near future.

Reviving the cells

Soft or reversible sulfation can be treated with a steady current to a fully charged battery. The concept behind this action involves molecular excitement on an intense level. As the current moves through the battery, sulfate crystals that are attached to the plates and preventing proper charging can dissolve back into the liquid solution.

This action doesn’t work for every battery, however. In fact, the practice can be dangerous if you’re not applying the proper current. It’s possible for the battery to break down even further with too much power. Consulting professionals about your power issues is the best choice.

Heading into the future

Today’s battery designers and retailers are looking for a simple solution to sulfation. The answer lies in a unique, acid-mixing battery. These specialty batteries, called ULTRAPOWER +Plus with MIXTECH, have a design where the electrolytes consistently mix as the product is being charged and discharged.

Because the liquid is constantly in flux, excess sulfation cannot occur on a widespread level. You’re left with a battery that runs twice as long as a standard, lead-acid battery. With power demands that are only increasing over time, a long-lasting battery will always be welcomed.

Trusting in your local, battery dealer is the best way to keep up with your power needs. Northeast Battery continues to improve upon today’s power supplies as the latest technology is tested and retested. We’re pleased to fight sulfation with you as battery technology continues to expand and improve.

Battery 101: The Right Way to Winterize Your Boat

Every winter we think about all everything we have to do to get ready for the onslaught of snow and ice that head our way. We check the window insulation and change the filter in the furnace. We gas up the snow plow and make sure each car has a sturdy ice scraper. For boat owners, this time of year also means we need to winterize your boat.

Not winterizing the boat could mean your first trip to the water this spring will leave you high and dry. Try this checklist to make sure your boat will make it through these hard winter months, and be ready to go once it warms up.

Schedule Required Maintenance

As soon as the weather starts to thaw, marine shops see their service requests go through the roof. The start of winter is a great time to beat the rush.

If you know that you’ll be needing maintenance before you can put the boat on the water come spring, go ahead and get it done now. You may even find places that will cut you a deal for giving them business during the offseason.

Decide Storage

In water storage versus out of water storage is a common debate. There are pros and cons to both, but either way, you’ll need to make sure you winterize the boat in the way that is appropriate for where you plan to store it.

In-Water Storage

  • Check for leaks and make repairs as necessary to prevent swamping or even sinking the boat.
  • Check the bilge pump and floats to make sure they are working correctly.
  • If the water surrounding the boat is likely to freeze, use water agitators to bring the warmer water up to the surface.
  • Cover tightly with boat cover.

Out-Of-Water Storage

  • Thoroughly clean the interior and the exterior of the boat. A pressure washer is a good way to knock off any algae or barnacles.
  • Allow all water to drain from the boat.
  • Check for any blisters on the hull and make sure any necessary repairs are attended to before winter begins.
  • Cover tightly with boat cover.

Change The Oil

Changing the oil in a boat is very important as water and other material from the water can make its way into the system over time. The longer oil sits it can become acidic. That along with contaminants from the water can cause a lot of damage to the engine of your boat.

Pro-Tip: Let the engine run for a few minutes before changing the oil. This movement stirs up any debris and other contaminants and makes sure they get flushed out with the oil during the oil change.

Charge The Battery

Believe it or not, even a marine battery will still discharge when it’s not in use. It’s a really good idea to make sure that the battery is cleaned and fully charged before putting it in storage.

You will also want to make sure that any and all switches are turned off. (It may also be a good idea to disconnect any equipment that may cause a drain on the battery.)

Depending on how long the boat will be in storage, you will want to check on the battery’s state of charge. Recharging it every month or two will keep it from discharging to the point of no return.

If you have a trickle charger, this is a good time to put it to work. A trickle charger will keep the battery charged throughout the winter months without overcharging the battery.

Empty The Tank Or Stabilize The Fuel

When gasoline is allowed to sit for long periods of time there is a risk of separation. This means that as the ethanol in the gas takes on moisture it starts to separate from the gasoline and can damage the engine if used. The best option is to empty the fuel tank completely.

If that’s not an option for you, you can use a fuel stabilizer. Simply add it to the fuel tank a few days to a week before you plan to take the boat off of the water.

This allows the stabilizer to circulate throughout the system. Then fill up the tank until it’s just under full.

About 90-95% full should do the trick. Add more fuel stabilizer and you should be good to go for the winter.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: Give Your Forklift Advanced Power

Lead-acid batteries are the standard when it comes to vehicular power. From golf carts to your personal car, these battery styles dominate the industry. The forklift that carries every good around your workplace also relies on these power sources. However, that’s not the case anymore. Lithium-ion batteries are making their way to a forklift near you. These batteries have numerous benefits that make them better than lead-acid types any day.

Takes Up Less Space

Lithium-ion batteries are smaller than lead-acid designs, which leads to less space taken up on your forklift, reports Warehouse IQ. You’ll technically have more storage space for other items as you move about the warehouse.

If you purchase a new forklift with lithium-ion batteries already installed, that machine will actually be a lot smaller than the designs with lead-acid batteries. Tight, warehouse aisles may not have been accessible with the forklift in the past, but lithium-ion batteries make those areas easy to maneuver into now.

Offers High-Density Storage

Energy and Capital reports that almost everything you and your customers deal with on a daily basis is touched in some way by a forklift. These machines are the workhorses of almost every industry. As a result, forklift owners and operators need batteries that can last a long time.

Lithium-ion batteries can last around three times longer than their lead-acid counterparts. This is an average value, however, so lifespans can vary. If you use the forklift each day and charge it overnight, the battery will always be ready to go.

Charges More Efficiently

Lead-acid batteries are known for their long, charging times. It’s the nature of the design and chemicals involved. Lithium-ion batteries are unique because they have starkly different chemical exchanges that occur between the internal metals. As a result, lithium-ion technology charges faster than others.

After about 40 minutes, 50 percent of the battery’s cells are ready to go. With only 80 minutes necessary for a full charge, these batteries contribute to productivity on every level. Businesses can technically swap out the batteries to keep the forklifts running 24 hours a day if necessary.

Produces Little Heat and Fewer Gases

Lead-acid batteries are known for their special needs, such as ventilating them during charging. They produce quite a bit of gas and heat as the chemical processes continue. Lithium-ion batteries don’t have this issue. They remain relatively cool throughout the charging time.

From a business’s perspective, cool batteries lead to safer conditions within the workplace. Fewer accidents occur as well. When employees feel comfortable in their workplace, they’re typically more productive than before.

Eliminates Excess Wear on Forklifts’ Internal Parts

The heat and weight contributed by lead-acid batteries creates significant wear on the forklift. Lithium-ion batteries reduce wear by producing less heat and offering a reduced weight. There’s also a steady current emanating from lithium-ion technology.

The forklift’s wiring and electrical parts don’t decline over time from fluctuating power. Excessive current moving through any electrical parts is wearing over time. As a result, the forklift has a longer lifespan than with the lead-acid designs.


What You Need to Know to Maintain Commercial Fleet Batteries

Taking care of automotive batteries is important no matter what you’re driving. When keeping the fleet on the road is your business, it’s not just important, it’s imperative. That’s why it’s so important to understand that just because most automotive batteries perform similar functionality, they are not all created equal.

Here’s what you need to know about taking care of your commercial truck battery.

Routine maintenance

The most important thing we could tell anyone about taking care of their battery is to make it a part of your routine maintenance program.

Sure you want to check the oil and make sure the brakes are holding up, but the battery is important too. Preventative maintenance is the best way to make sure your battery won’t fail you on the side of the highway.

Try keeping track of warranties as well as repairs or frequent replacements that could indicate a larger mechanical issue.

Replace batteries as needed

Waiting for the battery to die as an indicator for replacement is… not a good plan. If you notice your battery is not up to par, try performing voltage tests. If it’s not toward the end of the battery’s life cycle and it’s already failing, the odds are pretty high that there is an electrical issue that is draining the battery.

If you are nearing the end of the life cycle and you are getting indicators that the battery is becoming sluggish, don’t try to push it for more time. A few things to look for when the battery is about to go are:

  • Check Engine Light
  • Slow Engine Crank (it takes longer than normal to start the engine)
  • The battery electrolyte levels are low

Pick the right battery

As we mentioned earlier, not all batteries are created equal. They each have their role to play and are not always interchangeable. So stop ordering discount replacement batteries in bulk and start getting the right battery for your equipment.

There are two main factors to look at when choosing a battery: rating and type. The rating will help you understand the CCA (cold cranking amps – the amount of current that can be delivered in cold temperatures) and the RC (the reserve capacity – how much power can be stored once charged). If you are having difficulty starting the engine in minor cold weather conditions you may want to check the ratings.

Batteries Are More Than Just their Ratings

Don’t overlook the other factors that may come into play, such as the level of vibration in your trucks. Many fleet managers have decided to upgrade their batteries to AGM (absorbed glass mat) from flooded cell. Some of the benefits are:

  • Perform better in higher vibration applications
  • Better shelf life
  • Less maintenance
  • Non-hazardous

Know How To Charge

Before you start charging you should always check the instructions. Even if you’ve done this a thousand times, it never hurts to refresh your memory.

A lot of commercial batteries have threaded stud terminals that require special charging posts to clamp to. The posts allow for a flush connection to the terminal. Connecting directly to the threaded stud will not provide the lead-to-lead contact needed to get a good charge and correct readings.

You will also want to make sure that you are using a voltage-limited charger if you have AGM batteries. A voltage-limited charger will help keep you from overcharging the battery and shortening its lifespan, or worse.

Pro-Tips For Troubleshooting Battery Issues

Trouble starting – Check the cables. When the battery is fully charged, the likely culprit is loose cables.

Parasitic loads – Test everything to identify the issue. In larger rigs, it’s not uncommon to have things like microwaves or televisions pulling more than their fair share.

Corrosion – Inspect the terminals, especially if this is a frequent issue. Clean the battery thoroughly and safely and look for any leaking that might be causing a problem.

Underperforming alternator – Test the voltage and current from the alternator. If you have a perfectly good battery that is discharging too fast it could indicate a problem