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Lead Acid Batteries in Modern Times – Part I

Can the Lead-acid Battery Compete in Modern Times? - Part I

The answer is certainly, YES.

The oldest type of rechargeable battery is lead-acid. Lead-acid batteries were the first rechargeable batteries used in commercial applications, developed in 1859 by the French physician Gaston Planté. We still don’t have any affordable alternatives to cars, wheelchairs, scooters, golf carts, or UPS systems 150 years later. In situations where newer battery chemistries would either be prohibitively expensive, the lead-acid battery has maintained its market share.

Fast charging is not possible with lead-acid batteries. 8 to 16 hours is the usual charge time. To avoid sulfation, a periodic completely saturated charge is necessary, and the battery must always be stored charged. Battery sulfation results from being left in a depleted state, making a recharge possibly impossible.

It’s crucial to determine the appropriate charge voltage limit. Although a high voltage (over 2.40V/cell) results in good battery performance, grid corrosion on the positive plate reduces battery life. On the negative plate, sulfation can occur at low voltage limits. Long-term float charging of the battery has no negative effects.

Deep cycling is not a favorite of lead-acid. A full discharge puts the battery under more effort, and each cycle reduces the battery’s useful life. Other battery chemistries can also experience wear-down to differing degrees. A larger battery is advised to avoid the battery from being stressed by repeated deep drain.

The sealed lead-acid battery offers 200 to 300 discharge/charge cycles, depending on the depth of discharge and operating temperature.

Due to its low energy density, lead-acid batteries are unsuitable for portable devices. Additionally, there is fair performance at lower temperatures. One of the best self-discharge rates for rechargeable batteries is 40% per year.

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