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Deep Cycle Batteries for Backup Power

Choosing the correct style of deep cycle battery for your specific needs can be challenging. The different manufactures, sizes and warranties are as varied as the devices that are used by these long lasting storage instruments. Regardless of the application, knowing what you are wanting the battery for combined with the charging system can go a long way in choosing the correct deep cycle battery for you.

Understand that all batteries are rated in much the same way by a term called amp hours. This is a combination of hours and amperes. A battery that is rated for 45 amp hours can handle a discharge rate of 4.5 amperes for 10 hours or 10 amperes at 4.5 hours.  The amp hour rating is still a general term and will only give a relative amount of power for the application.

Ask about life expectancy from a dealer and they may give you the answer "Well now that depends". In a sense that is true, a battery that is occasionally used and slowly recharged will last longer than one that is fully discharged and recharged on a daily basis. This type of heavy use is called "cycling". Many batteries are rated by the amount of "cycles" that it can withstand.  Most deep cycle batteries can withstand a cycling discharge rate of 80% before any damage may occur to the cells.

Read the specifications as to the type of cells that are used in the battery. The most common cells used in deep cycle batteries are lead plates. The larger and heavier the lead plates the more power it can store and deliver to the electrical device. Some batteries use a sponge cell that will have a lot of storage area, but lack the staying power of a lead plate.  In general, the thicker the lead plate the longer the battery will last.

Keep the battery cool. As the battery is discharged and recharged - heat is released from the storage unit. Heat can be the number one item that lessens the life of the battery. When choosing a battery, find the upper temperature limits that the battery can withstand before the heat becomes detrimental.

Add water or not to add water. Many batteries are now completely sealed to the outside environment. This in some cases can be a very good thing if that battery is to be used for a powered wheel chair or on a boat for a trolling motor system. Rough use conditions such as these may cause a battery to tip over and spill the contents.

Consult the manufacturers warranties concerning the type of battery. Many may have clauses associated with them as to installation and environmental conditions. Others may also have a very limited time frame in which they will honor any returns or repair for the storage unit.

Words to the Wise:
With new technologies, batteries are becoming even less expensive than they were just five years ago.  Their life spans also are increasing with the utilization of solar powered systems.

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Kat and Kevin Yares

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