Battery maintenance for floor cleaning equipment

Choosing the right battery for your scrubber drier or sweeper, understanding proper battery maintenance and educating machine users are just a few important ways to ensure the safe, uninterrupted operation of your floor machines, and are key to getting the biggest return on your battery investment.

So what battery technology do you choose?

Deep-cycle batteries, whether they are flooded, AGM or gel, are the best choice for cleaning machines because they are optimised for deep discharge, characteristic of regular machine operation.

batteries

Flooded versus sealed (AGM or gel) technology is a decision based on budget or environmental regulations at an individual location. Flooded batteries cost less and have a longer life-cycle, while sealed AGM or gel batteries are maintenance-free but have a higher price. Preference really depends on one of these two requirements.

Battery box

Maintaining water levels is the key to maintaining flooded batteries. Despite the multitude of challenges impacting the floor cleaning industry today, equipment inefficiencies due to the failure of watering deep-cycle flooded batteries shouldn’t be one of them.

watering systems

Single-point watering systems are gaining in popularity as they make maintenance of deep-cycle flooded batteries quick and easy. With a battery watering system, staff can fill a complete set of batteries in less than 30 seconds.

Regardless of which battery technology you choose, it’s important to remember that a battery is only as good as the maintenance it receives. Proper maintenance of deep-cycle batteries will provide maximum performance and longer life extending your overall equipment run times and return on investment.

A common problem often encountered is users who have let batteries discharge too far. This can shorten the life of batteries and it is so critical to avoid this, and some manufacturers now have an electronic ‘low battery cut-off system’ that prevents this from happening.

Following a few simple maintenance steps ensures that your machine’s deep-cycle batteries will provide optimum performance levels day in, day out.

Tips for Proper Maintenance:

Safety

The safety precautions and procedures outlined below should be followed whether handling flooded lead acid (FLA) or valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) such as AGM or gel batteries.

‐Always wear protective clothing, safety glasses and gloves when handling and/or performing battery maintenance

‐Never add acid to a battery

‐Keep batteries clean and dry

‐Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries

‐Charge only in well ventilated areas

‐Avoid skin contact with the electrolyte

‐Always use insulated tools

Charging

chargers

‐Charge after each use and follow the manufacturer’s charging instructions

‐Before charging, ensure the electrolyte level is above the plates in flooded batteries

‐Tighten vent caps before charging

‐Do not interrupt a charge cycle

‐Never allow batteries to freeze and never attempt to charge a frozen battery

‐Avoid charging at temperatures above 120°F (49°C) and always keep batteries away from heat sources. High heat kills batteries.

Watering (flooded batteries only)

‐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

Cleaning

‐Clean the battery terminals and cable lugs regularly with a solution of baking soda and water using a wire brush. It is imperative to properly maintain the entire connection in a flooded battery because corrosion at either end of the connection can  cause high resistance and potential battery failure. Rinse with water and dry.

‐Thinly coat all connections with anti-corrosion spray or silicone gel to resist corrosion

Torque

‐Tighten all wiring connections as per the manufacturer’s specifications

‐Do not over-tighten as this can result in breakage of the battery terminals

‐Avoid under-tightening as this could lead to terminal meltdown

‐Make sure there is good contact with the terminals

Storage

There are important steps that should be followed when storing batteries for an extended period of time.

‐Completely charge batteries before storing and monitor every six weeks while in storage

‐Batteries gradually self-discharge during storage. AGM batteries self-discharge at a much slower rate than flooded batteries. Be sure to monitor voltage every 4 to 6 weeks. Stored batteries should be given a boost charge when they are at 70 percent state of charge or less.

‐Store batteries in a cool, dry location avoiding areas where freezing or very hot temperatures are expected

‐Keep batteries fully charged to prevent freezing

‐When batteries are taken out of storage, recharge them before use

‐Avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators or heaters

Gaining a clear understanding of the various deep-cycle battery types and maintenance practices ensures that your battery-powered floor machines will continue to operate at peak levels of performance and reliability. With proper care and maintenance, an initial investment in deep-cycle flooded, AGM or gel battery technology can be extended as well as keeping the total cost of ownership to a minimum resulting in more uptime and greater profits for your company.

When it comes to battery maintenance, the bottom line is that with proper maintenance, batteries can serve users for years to come.

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