DEFINITIONS OF BATTERY TYPES
There is often confusion when battery definitions are used to explain various aspects of the lead acid battery eg. sealed, maintenance free and other descriptive terms. The explanation of terms below is based on definitions contained in the IEC (60095-1 :2006) specification for lead acid starter batteries and is meant to provide clarity in terms of the various terms used to describe batteries.
Vented (flooded) battery
This is the most common of automotive battery types. This type of battery has a cover with one or more openings through which gas generated by the battery may escape. A battery may also be fitted with tamper-proof plugs to prevent internal access to the battery but will still have an arrangement to allow gas generated by the battery to escape. The battery has “free” electrolyte which means that the acid moves freely within the battery.
Valve regulated (with gas recombination) battery
A secondary battery that is closed under normal conditions and has an arrangement that allows the escape of gas if the internal pressure exceeds a predetermined value.
The battery cannot normally receive an addition of water or electrolyte. In this type of battery, the electrolyte is immobilised. This means that the acid is held in either a gel or a glass mat structure.
The valve regulated battery is often called a sealed battery because no addition of electrolyte or water is possible. However, the battery will have a pressure release vent to allow for the escape of gas generated by the battery.
Low water loss
Vented starter batteries may be designated as “low water loss” according to the IEC specification if the water loss of the battery is less than 4 grams per amp hour.
Very low water loss
Vented starter batteries may be designated as “very low water loss” according to the IEC specification if the water loss of the battery is less than one gram per amp hour.
Some specifications use the term “maintenance free” to describe a battery that has a water loss below a certain level. The IEC specification does not use this term, but rather uses the terms low and very low water loss.
12 Volt Cell Layout
- One piece DIN type cover
- One piece flat top cover
- Single cell lids with exposed connectors
- Polypropylene container
- With handles
- 19mm Clip on side hold-downs optional
- With clip on shoulders
BATTERY CARE AND MAINTENANCE
For a battery to remain in good working order, it should be maintained in a fully charged state by the vehicle’s charging system. Where a battery is used as a means of alternative power, it is generally charged by means of an independent charger or rectifier which supplies controlled direct current (DC).
An independent charger is also used to charge motor vehicle batteries that have become discharged due to faulty alternators, charging systems or if left unused for prolonged periods.
If the following hints are adhered to, a battery will provide extended and trouble free service.
- Store batteries in a clean and dry area (in order to prevent deterioration).
- Store batteries in a fully charged state. (12V Battery above 12.4V).
- Ensure a correct polarity connection when recharging and fitting.
- Follow proper recharging schedules to prevent overcharging. Ensure charging is conducted in a well ventilated area.
- Ensure that the battery is always clean and dry, with the terminals coated with petroleum jelly (vaseline) or proprietary terminal protectors. Do not use greases which may contain metal additives.
- Please note: Practice stock rotation and use a first-in, first-out system at all times.
- Always wear protective clothing when working with batteries.
- Do not store batteries in a discharged state.
- Do not test batteries by shorting across terminal posts with wire, spanners, etc.
- Do not allow open flames or sparks near a battery as it could explode (batteries give off flammable gasses).
- Do not use a single spanner to loosen or tighten the terminal clamp as this could damage the post lid seal. Use a spanner to the nut and a second spanner to the bolt.
- Do not use the starter motor to propel the vehicle or leave the vehicle parked with accessories switched on for extended periods.
- Do not lean over a battery when charging or testing.
- Do not put any metal objects on top of a battery.
BATTERY REMOVAL AND INSTALLATION
The following procedures can be used for the removal and fitment of an automotive battery:
- Before removing the old battery take note which terminal Pos+ or Neg – is connected to the ground cable. The grounded cable is usually connected to the engine or chassis.
- Disconnect ground or negative (-) cable first. This will prevent sparks caused by accidental short circuiting.
- Disconnect the positive cable form the terminal post and then remove the battery hold-downs.
- Finally remove the battery from the vehicle.
Battery Service and Maintenance:
- Inspect the battery tray, hold–downs and clamps. Replace any items damaged by excessive corrosion.
- Use a wire brush to clean corrosion from battery tray and clamps. Clean all corrosion from tray, hold-downs and cables. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Severely corroded components should be washed and neutralised by using a solution of Bicarbonate of Soda mixed with warm water (10grams, or 1 tablespoon to 1 litre of water).
- Using a post and clamp cleaner, clean both battery terminals and the inside of both cable clamps until they have a bright metallic shine. The cleaning ensures good electrical contact.
- VERY IMPORTANT STEP
Carefully place the new battery in the tray making certain the (+) and (-) are in the same position in relation to the grounded cable (as noted in step 1). This procedure ensures correct polarity. Replace the battery hold-downs but do not over tighten at this point.
- Follow the reverse of the procedure in the removing the battery. Connect the positive cable first, and then connect the grounded cable. Make sure both cable connections to the terminals are tight. Coat the terminals and the cable clamps with petroleum jelly or a proprietory terminal protector. Do not use grease which may contain metal additives.
- The hold-down nuts can now be tightened securely. Do not over tighten.
- Installation is complete. To ensure battery is installed correctly, turn ignition on. If battery is properly installed, the ammeter (or charge indicator in some vehicles) will show discharged. Crank the engine. Once the engine is running, the ammeter or charge indicator light should function correctly.
- It is advisable to always have the vehicle’s charging system checked after fitment of a new battery.
Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4)
- Skin contact: Immediately drench the affected area with clean water and remove any contaminated clothing. If any soreness or irritation persists seek medical advice.
- Eye contact: Immediately wash out the eyes with clean water until initial burning subsides. Do not use eye drops but do seek prompt medical attention.
- Ingestion: DO NOT induce vomiting but make patient drink as much water or milk as possible, followed by Milk of Magnesia, beaten eggs or vegetable oil and seek immediate medical attention.
- Spillage: Small spillages can be quite simply dealt with by swilling away with plenty of water and neutralizing using Bicarbonate of Soda mixed with water (10 grams Bicarb to 1 litre of water)
- Disposal: Suitably labelled, acid resistant containers should be used for transporting, neutralizing and disposal of sulphuric acid.
- Burns: Apply a dry sterile dressing and seek medical attention.
Safety Tips Sulphuric Acid
Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) is contained in batteries.
Battery acid is a poisonous and corrosive liquid, which will cause burns and irritation to the skin and eyes. Take precautions when charging as sulphuric acid is given off in a fine mist.
- Always handle batteries with care and keep upright.
- Always charge in a well ventilated area.
- Use eye protection and protective clothing where there is any risk of acid splashing or spillage.
Electrical energy can be supplied from batteries and charging equipment.
Burns may occur from the heating effect of tools and conductive objects in contact with live battery terminals or conductors. In addition, sparks and molten metal may be ejected and combustible materials, notably the gaseous fumes, ignited to cause potentially lethal explosions.
It is possible to receive a severe electric shock from charging equipment and from a number of batteries connected in series i.e. five or more 12 volt batteries (+60 volt nominal)
- Before using conductive tools on a battery, remove metallic personal adornments from the hands and wrists.
- Before working on a vehicle’s electrical system, blow across the terminals and the vent holes to disperse any fumes and disconnect the battery where there is any risk of accidental short circuits.
- Always disconnect the earth terminal from a battery first and connect it last to prevent short circuiting.
- Keep, charge, check and test batteries in a well ventilated area.
- Do not place tools or conductive objects on top of batteries.
- Before using a battery charger consult manufacturer’s literature.
- Remember to switch the charger off before connecting or disconnecting a battery.
Emergency Procedure for Treating Electric Shocks
- Electric Shock: Immediate action is essential in cases of severe electrical shock as the nerves controlling breathing and heart action may be affected. Do not delay treatment by calling for a doctor; this should be done quickly if help is available or when the casualty recovers.
- Make sure it is safe to approach casualty. If the casualty is not clear of the electrical source, switch off the power. If this is not possible, attempt to separate the casualty from the conductor using a dry, insulating object (wood, rubber, brick, thickly folded newspaper, cardboard) and try to push or pull the casualty clear of contact. Do not touch casualty with bare hands.
- Apply artificial respiration if necessary. Seek medical attention thereafter.
- Explosion: Seek any necessary medical attention and remember that sulphuric acid may have been ejected.
Emission of Gasses
Hydrogen and oxygen are emitted during charging and are emitted during cranking or movement of the battery.
An explosive atmosphere is created if the concentration of hydrogen in air exceeds 4%.
- Keep, fill, charge, check and test batteries in a well ventilated area.
- As an added precaution, blow air across the terminals and the vent holes to disperse any ignitable fumes.
- Avoid sources of ignition close to batteries.
- In particular:
No naked flames.
Switch off current before making or breaking electrical connection. Avoid sparks caused by accidental short circuits.