Common Wisdom and Helpful Tips for SLA (Sealed Lead-Acid) Batteries
“After all, battery technology is not black and white but has many shades of gray.”Isidor Buchmann, founder and CEO of Cadex Electronics Inc
Tip #1: Take care of your SLAs or plan to buy new ones frequently.
Learn what keeps a battery in good health and religiously follow these practices. It only takes a few mistakes to significantly shorten the life and output of an SLA. Leaving the power switch of your bike or scooter in the “on” position for few days is a perfect example.
Tip #2: Know what a smart charger is and get one.
Not all chargers that claim to be “smart” really are. Get a solid recommendation, or learn how to monitor your own charger to be sure it’s not slowly killing your batteries. If you have to use a questionable charger, disconnect it after the charge cycle is complete. Learn what an appropriate “finishing” voltage is for your brand of SLAs and then see what your charger is really doing.
Tip #3: Charge before and after every ride.
Topping off your SLAs before a ride will give you the longest ride and maximum initial power. Charging immediately after a ride will prevent sulfation of the plates from starting to occur. You may wish to let your batteries cool before charging, just to be nice.
Tip # 4: Only discharge your batteries as far a you really need.
If you are riding to work and need the full capacity of your SLAs, fine. But if you are just out to putter around, head home before you completely deplete the batteries. You will get many more charge-discharge cycles from a set of batteries that you don’t run all the way down each time (called a “deep” discharge).
Tip #5: Not all SLAs are created equal.
There are significant differences between battery brands with the exact same rating and form factor. Inexpensive batteries can be a true bargain, or a waste of money, and can also vary between production runs. If you buy from a local dealer you may pay more than an internet shop. But when it’s time to return those puppies, you’ll be out for the return shipping charges, which can be substantial.
When ordering new SLAs, pay close attention to the terminal type. The push-on type used on most LEVs comes in two sizes: .180 and .250, and go by the name “Faston”. If you get the wrong type, it’s a pain to adapt or change them out.