Lead Acid

LeadAcid-compressorFor years the standard for any Island power system has been the lead acid battery. It is the oldest type of rechargeable battery. They work through a process where, when they are being discharged, lead plates (one lead and one lead dioxide) surrounded by sulfuric acid change to lead sulphate. When they are being charged the process is reversed. In deep cycle batteries the lead plate is thicker allowing it withstand frequent discharging and charging cycles.

It is common to hear people talking about L16’s or R232’s on the Island with these being the most common low end batteries with a modern L16 being able to cycle (discharge and charge) around 1500 times. Charging comes in three types for an L16 battery. A bulk charge where the battery is brought up to the specified voltage by a constant current. A absorption charge where it is held at a specified voltage. Finally there is a maintenance equalization charge where the battery is subjected to an extended low current after the normal charge cycle. Actively used L16’s should be equalized once per month as this helps to keep the cells in balance.

The cell water levels should be checked once a month as well and if needed they can be topped up with distilled water. It is a good idea to use safety equipment when doing so to stop any accidental acid splash. Terminals should be kept free from corrosion. When a battery is bought it should come with a specification sheet, or they can be downloaded from the internet. It is a good idea to read the specification sheet. When in doubt, ask your local electrician or send a message to the manufacturer. The easy way is to get a local electrician to do the checking. This is especially a benefit if the household is only in use for short periods of time.

There are two other types of lead acid battery used on the island and both are valve-regulated lead-acid battery (VRLA). The first is the absorbed glass mat (AGM) which differs from a normal lead acid battery in that the acid is held in a very fine glass fibre matting. The second is called a gel battery and can be used in situations where they won’t always be upright. Fumed silica is added to the sulfuric acid to create a gel. The advantage of both batteries is that they are maintenance free. However, they cannot be drained as deeply as normal lead acid batteries as it can damage them irreversibly.

As you increase battery quality the major difference is the amount of cycles each battery can endure, and the number of amp hours each battery provides. A high end battery might cost thousands of dollars (and remember you will need more than one) but may also last 8000 cycles. This can make it more economic over its lifespan depending on its usage.

Low end lead acid battery cost example

Just two of these batteries are used in many low end 12V systems, but the usual amount in a small household is at least four.

Crown CR430 L16

6V, 430 A/Hr @ C20, with water conserving cap.


Mid range lead acid battery cost example

As these are 2V batteries, a household will need 6 to make a 12V system, 12 for a 24V system, and 24 for a 48V system.

Hoppecke 7OPzS730

2V, 730 A/Hr @ C100.


High end lead acid battery cost example

As these are 2V batteries, a household will need 6 to make a 12V system, 12 for a 24V system, and 24 for a 48V system.

Hoppecke 8OPzS1070

2V, 1070 A/Hr @ C100.



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Last updated on the 06-04-2020