Sealed gel batteries are a valve-regulated, maintenance-free solution that works in numerous environments. This design is versatile and robust, ensuring a broad range of applications receive power.
The first lead-acid gel battery was created in 1934, but the initial modern version reached the marketplace in 1957. That means this technology pre-dated AGM batteries by 15 years.
Those early batteries were two-volt cells that are nothing like today’s multi-cell monoblocks. Even the large single-capacity cells deliver a consistently excellent performance today that far exceeds what the first options offered with this design.
If you’re interested in the potential benefits that sealed gel batteries provide, here are the things you’ll want to know about this technology.
1. Gel Batteries Are a Lightweight Solution
Sealed gel batteries are significantly lighter when compared to standard designs. This technology uses a small amount of paste-like electrolyte to ensure the included acid remains immobile within the product.
That means gel batteries have a longer lifespan than traditional batteries. The gel holds its charge for longer, even after it gets recharged after being expended entirely.
2. It Offers a Durable Design
When compared to ordinary batteries, the sealed gel design provides more resistance to common disruptive factors during operation. It handles vibrations well, and it withstands significant impacts without having the power source disrupted. That makes it an essential investment for situations where ongoing needs exist.
This feature of sealed gel batteries extends to its maintenance requirements. Most of the time, nothing needs to be done to ensure the unit operates at its maximum output or peak efficiency.
3. Resistant to Discharge Death
Sealed gel batteries can be held in storage for a significant time without having self-discharge problems. They’re highly resistant to energy loss with a deep cycle design. Even if there isn’t enough power to use equipment, the unit can be recharged to function as it did before. That means fewer risks exist if the product isn’t used for an extended time.
Part of the reason for this benefit is the leak-free design that sealed gel batteries use. Even if the casing becomes compromised while operating, the paste-like gel remains contained within the unit.
That means operators have fewer hazards to manage if an incident occurs with the battery.
4. Charge Controller Selection Is Crucial
When using sealed gel batteries, everyone must provide special consideration when choosing the charger for the product. It requires a lower voltage to maximize the recharge process. If overvoltage occurs during this process, the outcome can be reduced performance or complete battery failure.
Some chargers today come with multiple settings to use. It’s essential to review the owner’s manual of the item to ensure the sealed gel battery gets connected with the appropriate voltage rate.
The general charging voltage range is approximately 14 volts, while the float voltage range is between 13.1 to 13.3 volts.
Although you can walk away from recharging activities with other batteries, that isn’t possible when working with the sealed gel design. Since it uses a paste instead of a liquid to deliver the power it generates, the charger must be removed when the cycle is complete.
If a sealed gel battery stays connected to its charger, it can develop voids within the paste that disrupt its functionality. This issue can even lead to the product failing to work correctly, even if the product is new.
5. Hundreds of Recharge Cycles
Sealed gel batteries are appropriate for virtually any deep cycle application. Depending on the product quality selected, the lifespan rating for these items is typically in the 500-cycle to the 5,000-cycle range.
Since the design is spillproof, there are fewer worries to manage if the battery gets placed in what would be a compromised position for a standard product.
Those features reduce the risk of experiencing a sulfuric acid burn significantly while the battery operates. Without acid spillage, minimal corrosion occurs after the installation is complete. That makes this battery a viable option for sensitive electronic equipment.
6. Not the Same as AGM Batteries
It is crucial to remember that sealed gel batteries are not the same as AGM batteries. Although these two products have numerous similarities, they have one critical difference.
When using a sealed gel battery, the paste-like substance contained within it looks a lot like jelly. AGM batteries used electrolytes absorbed in a glass mat like a separator. That means the gel option starts losing power quickly when temperatures plummet below freezing.
An AGM battery works efficiently in cold weather conditions because of its glass mats. You’d want to review the ratings for the battery you’re considering if you expect temperature extremes to ensure no operational disruption occurs.
7. Environmental Heat Exposure Should Be Reviewed
Although all batteries have sensitivities to hot and cold temperatures, the sealed gel design is particularly vulnerable to heat. Without appropriate controls in the operating environment, there is no way to maximize the lifespan of this product.
It is possible to achieve the maximum lifetime rating when constant controls over temperature exposure occur. You’ll need to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations for this issue to achieve the results you want.
When a sealed gel battery gets too hot, the risk of experiencing plate separation increases. This issue can cause the product to bulge after a malfunction, creating a potential damage risk for whatever it is powering.
Are Sealed Gel Batteries the Best Option?
A sealed gel battery provides numerous benefits worth reviewing. The valve it uses to remove extra pressure ensures the internal mixture has nowhere to go, providing an essential power resource that operates in almost any position.
When you have this information at your disposal, it’s easier to work around the potential limitations of this technology.
Although other types come with a slight advantage when looking at total power capacity, the slow discharge rate is a better option for anyone with long-term storage needs. That’s when a sealed gel battery could be the best option for you.
12V Gel or AGM batteries
If kept in a charged state when unused, the common lifespan of a 12-volt Gel or AGM battery is up to six years. After five or six years of float voltage at an average ambient temperature of 25 ºC, the battery still retains 80 % of its original capacity. Higher average temperatures will shorten the lifespan of the battery. The number of charges and discharge cycles of a 12-volt battery is strongly correlated to its structure and quality. Mastervolt’s 12-volt Gel batteries can take around 500 full cycles of being discharged down to 20 % and chargeback to full capacity.
Most manufacturers consider batteries to be spent at a remaining capacity of 80 %. This does not, however, mean that the battery has to be replaced immediately. For example, the battery can still be used if only 50 % of the battery capacity is actually required. It is therefore not necessary to replace the battery after six years or 500 full cycles. An average use of seven years is perfectly normal for 12-volt Gel or AGM batteries.
2v traction Gel batteries
The lifespan for 2-volt traction Gel cells is at least 15 years and the maximum number of full cycles is 1000-1500 when discharging to 20 % of capacity. These batteries are therefore highly suitable for larger systems that require intensive use and a very long lifespan.
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