Harness the power of batteries
09 October 2014
Elke Hirschman, vice president of marketing at Trojan Battery, looks at how proper battery selection and maintenance for floor cleaning equipment can maximise productivity
Today’s maintenance professionals face a variety of challenges ranging from limited staff, shrinking budgets and increasing environmental regulations. These issues can cost both time and money when it comes to successfully completing floor cleaning maintenance tasks. But choosing the right battery for your floor scrubber, knowing proper battery maintenance and educating your staff are a few important ways to ensure the safe, uninterrupted operation of your floor machines, as well as getting the biggest return on your battery investment.
Deep-cycle batteries, whether they are flooded, AGM or gel, are the best choice for cleaning machines because they are optimized for deep discharge, which is characteristic of daily floor scrubber operations. Flooded versus non-spillable (AGM or gel) technology is a decision based on feasibility of maintenance or environmental regulations at an individual location.
Regardless of which battery technology you choose, it’s important to remember that a battery is only as good as the maintenance it receives. Proper maintenance of deep-cycle batteries will provide maximum performance and longer life extending your overall equipment runtimes.
Watering is key to maintaining flooded batteries, so single-point watering systems are gaining in popularity. Single-point watering systems, such as Trojan’s HydroLink, make maintenance of deep-cycle flooded batteries quick and easy. With a battery watering system, your staff can fill a complete set of batteries in less than 30 seconds.
Following these simple steps ensures that your machine’s deep-cycle batteries will enable you to operate at optimum levels day in and day out:
The safety procedures should be followed whether handling flooded lead acid (FLA) or valve regulated lead acid (VRLA), such as AGM or gel, batteries.
•Always wear protective personal equipment including clothing, safety glasses, and gloves
•Never add acid to a battery
•Keep batteries clean and dry
•Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries
•Charge only in well ventilated areas
•Avoid skin contact with the electrolyte
•Always use insulated tools
•Charge after each use following the manufacturer’s charging instructions
•Before charging, ensure the electrolyte level is above the plates in flooded batteries
•Tighten vent caps before charging
•Do not interrupt a charge cycle
•Never charge a frozen battery
•Avoid charging at temperatures above 120°F (49°C)
Watering (flooded batteries only)
•Add water only after fully charging the battery (unless plates are exposed)
•Check with the manufacturer regarding proper electrolyte fill levels
•Never allow the electrolyte level to fall below the plates
•Use distilled water
•Clean the battery terminals and cable lugs regularly with a solution of one cup of baking soda and one gallon of water using a wire brush. It is imperative to properly maintain the entire connection in a flooded battery because corrosion at either end of the connection can cause high resistance and potential battery failure. Rinse with water and dry.
•Thinly coat all connections with anti-corrosion spray or silicone gel to resist corrosion
•Tighten all wiring connections per the manufacturer’s specifications
•Do not over-tighten which can result in post breakage
•Avoid under-tightening which can result in post meltdown
•Make sure there is good contact with the terminals
Equalizing (flooded batteries only)
•Connect battery to charger, set to equalize mode, and start the charge cycle
•Take voltage readings every hour
•Equalization is complete when voltage no longer rises
•If charger does not have an equalization setting call the battery manufacturer’s technical support staff to determine setting
There are important steps that should be followed when storing batteries for an extended period of time.
•Completely charge batteries before storing and monitor every six weeks while in storage
•Batteries gradually self-discharge during storage, with AGM batteries self-discharging at a much slower rate than flooded batteries. Be sure to monitor voltage every 4 to 6 weeks. Stored batteries should be given a boost charge when they are at 70% state of charge or less.
•Store batteries in a cool, dry location avoiding areas where freezing temperatures are expected
•Keep batteries fully charged to prevent freezing
•When batteries are taken out of storage, recharge them before use
•Avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators or heaters
Gaining a clear understanding of the various deep-cycle battery types and maintenance practices ensures that your battery-powered floor machines will continue to operate at peak levels of performance and reliability. With proper care and maintenance, an initial investment in deep-cycle flooded, AGM or gel battery technology can be extended, and the total cost of ownership kept to a minimum.