What is a Gel Battery?
Before you can determine the pros and cons of a gel battery and how they will affect you, it’s important to understand what exactly a gel battery is. A gel battery is very similar to a traditional lead-acid battery with the addition of silica to the electrolyte to create the gel like substance.
This thickening of the electrolyte means that gel batteries can be installed in a variety of positions and don’t emit as many fumes.
With a long service life and durable design, gel batteries are at the top end of battery design. The standard gel battery shares many properties with AGM deep cycle batteries while the ‘tubular’ gel battery is more commonly used in large scale, non-portable battery banks.
Both types of gel battery consist of a ‘gelified’ electrolyte that sits between lead plates, making them non-spilling and safe to place on their side. This sealed design also reduces the risk of electrolyte evaporation often encountered in traditional wet cell batteries and makes gel batteries highly resistant to vibration. It also decreases internal resistance, giving the battery higher charge and discharge capabilities.
Standard Gel Batteries and Deep Cycle Batteries
Both standard gel and deep cycle batteries are sealed lead acid batteries, meaning they share many of the same qualities and are often used for similar applications. Thanks to their non-spillable construction, both can be transported safely and used in areas with little or no ventilation.
Gel and deep cycle batteries do have some differences in their internal construction, however. While deep cycle batteries contain only enough liquid to keep their glass mats wet with electrolyte, gel batteries suspend the electrolytes in thick silica paste. This allows the electrons to flow between plates without leaking from the plate if the battery is broken.
Standard gel batteries are also more expensive than their deep cycle counterparts but if properly charged and cycled, can have a longer life span.
Tubular Gel Batteries
Unlike standard gel batteries, tubular gel batteries are most commonly used for power storage in solar systems. Rather than consisting of multiple 2 volt cells as in some deep cycle batteries, tubular gel batteries have only one two volt cell, meaning that they can be manufactured in sizes as large as 2000AH. This also eliminates the problem of having to pay for the expensive replacement of an entire battery, should one cell become faulty.
Tubular gel batteries do not need to be topped up with water and require very little maintenance, making them ideal for use in off grid battery banks.
Gel Battery Life Expectancy
Good quality tubular gel batteries have a designed service life of up to 20 years and a cyclic life rating of 5500. As previously stated, this is dependent on how well the battery is maintained. As well as charging your gel battery correctly (see below), avoid exposing it to excessive heat and never leave it in an uncharged state.
If charging your gel battery with a solar panel, make sure to use a solar charge regulator as excessive voltage produce by an unregulated panel will damage your battery.
How to Charge a Gel Battery
Gel batteries are more sensitive to voltage spikes and overcharging than their deep cycle counterparts, meaning that you’ll need to use a charger with a specified gel setting. Charging at the wrong voltage can damage the battery and lead to a shortened lifespan and even battery failure.
Pro Tip: This allows for gel batteries to be used in applications where ventilation is limited.
How Does It Work?
A gel battery (often referred to as a gel cell battery) is a lead-acid battery that is valve regulated. When the electrolyte is mixed with sulphuric acid and silica, it becomes a relatively stationary gel substance.
This gel mixture allows the battery to utilize the acid and electrolyte in the same way it would with a traditional lead-acid battery, just without the added maintenance.
Maintenance Free: Because the batteries are comprised of gel instead of liquid, there is little to no maintenance to keep the battery working properly.
No Leaks: Even though wet cell batteries are sealed in a plastic encasement there is still the chance that it will leak. Gel batteries are also sealed but with a valve that removes excess pressure. This means that between the gel substance and the removal of pressure, there is nowhere for the mixture to go.
Install Them Anywhere: Gel batteries have the advantage of being able to be used in virtually any position, because they don’t leak and are generally maintenance free. This greatly increases the number of applications gel batteries can be used for.
Minimal Risk: When damage occurs to a traditional lead-acid battery you are faced with a massive and dangerous clean up (not to mention the impact on anything the battery acid may come into contact with during the process). Gel batteries will not leak out if the casing becomes damaged, so there is a reduced risk of harm coming to the equipment and clean up hazards.
Vibration Resistant: One of the biggest complaints with wet cell batteries is that they are very susceptible to extreme vibration and other impacts. Gel batteries absorb the impact and vibrations, making them great batteries for items such as four wheelers.
No Fumes: Because these batteries are comprised of a gel substance there are minimal fumes created as a result of use. This means that there is a reduced need for ventilation which increases the potential applications gel batteries can be used for, as well as making them easier to charge anywhere.
Resistant To Discharge Death:When using a wet cell battery it’s important that you don’t allow the battery to discharge too much. Otherwise, it will never recharge. Gel cell batteries aren’t that way. They are deep cycle batteries which means that they can discharge more and still be recharged like new.
The Price:While the benefits of a gel battery are pretty hefty, so is the price tag. Many people looking to switch from wet cell to gel batteries see this as the biggest drawback.
Charging Challenged:When charging your gel battery, you’ll want to plan on giving it extra time. Slow charging cycles are pretty common with these batteries, but you can’t walk away and leave it. Because it’s a gel instead of a liquid you’ll need to take it off the charger as soon as it’s complete. To leave it on could cause voids with the electrolyte which is irreversible damage.
Heat Control:This is truly a drawback with most batteries and gel cell batteries are no exception. Heat is one of the fastest ways to cut the lifespan of your battery short. By controlling the batteries exposure to heat, you can lengthen the life cycle and keep your battery running like new.
When battery is charging, hydrogen would be absorbed and reversed to electrolyte by plates. It doesn’t need to refill water and balanced charge, which makes maintenance free.
AGM separator keep electrolyte absorbed in glass mat and still. Battery can be used or positioned in any orientation.
Longer lifespan in extreme weather
Gel cell electrolyte prevent electrolyte being evaporated in high temperature or being frozen in low temperature, which keep battery in high performance in extreme weather.
When excessive gas production by inappropriate charging occurs, safety valves will automatically emit the gas to prevent battery cracked.
Long standby life, Better cycle performance
Anti-corrosion lead-calcium alloy plate provides longer float charging life. AGM separator can trap electrolyte and prevent active materials on positive plate dropping at the same time. Moreover, it gives better deep discharge cycle performance.
Longer shelf life
Special lead-calcium alloy plates make lower self-discharge for longer shelf life.
High rate performance
Low inner resistance allows higher discharging and charging current for better performance in high rate application
- Consistent amp hour capacity over lifetime
- High operational voltage over lifetime
EXTENDED SERVICE LIFE
- Long life superior to deep-cycle FLA / AGM / Gel batteries
- 600+ cycles 70% DoD (IEC 254-1 Traction Lead-Acid)
- 450+ cycles 100% DoD (DIN 43 539 VRLA)
- High temperature life superior to AGM
- Low temperature operation superior to FLA batteries
- Exceeds OEM specifications
- Innovative technology
- Global service and support
RELIABLE AND SAFE
- Valve Regulated Lead-Acid, Gel
- Nonspillable, no-gassing
Brava® manufacturing facilities are fully certified to ISO 9001/14001 standards.
Designed in accordance with and published in compliance with applicable standards, including:
- IEC 60254-1. Lead-Acid Traction
- DIN 43 539. VRLA
- UL, CE Health Safety Certified
Tips: more detail information,for Gel battery.