Proper Battery Selection And Maintenance
Today''s cleaning and maintenance professionals face a variety of challenges to getting their jobs done, ranging from limited staff to shrinking budgets.
As a building services manager or a contractor of cleaning equipment, these issues can cost both time and money when it comes to successfully completing floor cleaning or maintenance tasks.
But, choosing the right battery for your floor scrubber, knowing proper battery maintenance and educating your staff are a few important ways to ensure the safe, uninterrupted operation of your floor machines and are the keys to getting the biggest return on your battery investment.
The demanding use inherent in floor machine applications has created a need for more powerful batteries that provide maximum runtime and less downtime for maintenance.
Technological advances are constantly incorporated into battery designs to make floor machine ownership and operation more productive and cost effective.
Enhancements in deep-cycle flooded, absorbed glass mat (AGM), gel and lithium-ion battery technologies ensure maximum productivity and worry-free operation of equipment.
Choosing The Right Battery
Deep-cycle battery technology is the best choice for cleaning machines because these batteries are optimized for the deep discharge and recharge cycling that is characteristic of daily machine operations.
When selecting a deep-cycle battery, first determine the appropriate voltage and connections, which is usually set by the floor machine manufacturer.
The floor machine manufacturer has designed the floor machine to fit specific battery sizes, so be sure to check your floor machine owner''s manual.
Next, consider capacity rating in minutes or ampere-hours (AH).
You can refer to the capacity the equipment manufacturer uses as a baseline, but if your daily demand is more, you may need a higher capacity battery.
When choosing the right battery for your floor machine, veer on the safe side and oversize a battery for capacity.
Undersizing a battery can result in unexpected downtime, while oversizing can only benefit you by providing longer operating time.
Whether you choose deep-cycle flooded, AGM or gel battery technology, be sure to consider a battery''s maintenance requirements.
While both AGM and gel batteries provide maintenance-free battery solutions, they are costlier than flooded batteries and do not provide the longevity that flooded batteries offer.
Deep-cycle flooded batteries have a lower initial cost, but require periodic "watering" to ensure the electrolyte remains at a proper level to ensure performance and long life.
So, be sure that you can commit to a regular maintenance schedule before selecting a flooded battery.
Otherwise, a flooded battery could suffer premature failure as a result of not being maintained properly and must be replaced sooner than expected.
Another option available is lithium-based batteries.
Lithium technology provides significantly longer runtimes, allowing cleaning professionals more hours on the job.
Lithium-based battery solutions also come in a variety of shapes and sizes enabling them to be designed to fit a variety of floor cleaning equipment.
Lithium batteries also are maintenance-free and can operate in a wide range of temperature conditions, permitting operators to continue their day-to-day duties without worrying about the upkeep of the battery.
Like AGM and gel technologies, lithium batteries carry a larger price tag, but offer operator convenience of no maintenance and long battery life.
Proper Care And Maintenance
Proper maintenance of your deep-cycle flooded, AGM and gel batteries will provide maximum performance and longer life of your battery investment.
Following these simple steps ensures that these batteries will enable you to operate at optimum levels day in and day out.
- Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while performing battery maintenance
- Never add acid to a battery
- Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries
- Charge only in well-ventilated areas.
- Charge after each use, as per manufacturer recommendations
- Before charging, ensure the electrolyte level is above the plates in flooded batteries
- Tighten vent caps before charging
- Do not interrupt a charge cycle and never charge a frozen battery.
- Add water only after fully charging the battery (unless plates are exposed)
- Check with the manufacturer regarding proper electrolyte fill levels
- Never allow the electrolyte level to fall below the plates
- Use distilled water.
- Tighten all vent caps before cleaning
- Clean the battery and cable lugs with a solution of baking soda and water
- Do not allow anything to get inside the battery
- Rinse with water and dry.
- Do not equalize AGM or gel batteries
- Connect battery to charger, set to equalize mode and start the charge cycle
- Equalization is complete when voltage no longer rises (take readings every hour)
- If charger does not have an equalization setting, call the battery manufacturer''s technical support staff to determine setting.
- Completely charge batteries before storing
- Store batteries in a cool, dry location
- Keep batteries fully charged to prevent freezing
- Avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators or heaters.
With proper care and maintenance, an initial investment in deep-cycle flooded, AGM, gel or lithium battery technology can be extended as well as keep the total cost of ownership to a minimum — all resulting in more uptime and profits for your company.
Elke Hirschman is vice president of marketing for Trojan Battery Company. She is responsible for leading Trojan''s overall global product and business marketing efforts for its floor cleaning, renewable energy, golf, transportation, aerial platform and recreational product divisions. During her tenure at Trojan, Hirschman successfully launched the company''s AC Series floor machine batteries, the HydroLink™ watering system for deep-cycle flooded batteries, the OverDrive AGM 31™ anti-idling battery for heaving trucking applications and the industry-leading AGM and gel battery products.