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VRLA Gel and AGM batteries offer several advantages compared with VRLA flooded lead acid and conventional lead–acid batteries. The battery can be mounted in any position, since the valves only operate on over-pressure faults. Since the battery system is designed to be recombinant and eliminate the emission of gases on overcharge, room ventilation requirements are reduced, and no acid fume is emitted during normal operation. Flooded cell gas emissions are of little consequence in all but the smallest confined areas, and pose very little threat to a domestic user, so a wet cell battery designed for longevity gives lower costs per kWh. In a gel battery, the volume of free electrolyte that could be released on damage to the case or venting is very small. There is no need (or ability) to check the level of electrolyte or to top up water lost due to electrolysis, reducing inspection and maintenance requirements. Wet cell batteries can be maintained by a self-watering system or by topping up every three months. The requirement to add distilled water is normally caused by overcharging. A well-regulated system should not require top-up more often than every three months.
The underlying fault with all lead acid batteries is the requirement for an excessively long charge time arising from a two-stage process: bulk charge and float charge. All lead acid batteries, irrespective of type, are quick to charge to 70% of capacity within 2 or 3 hours, but require another 9 to 10 hours to "float charge" after the initial charge. If users fail to float charge, battery capacity is dramatically reduced. To ensure maximum life, a lead acid battery should be kept at full charge when stored (or stored dry), and, when working, kept at depth of discharge of less than 20%. In addition, its discharge rate should be not more than three hours and its charge rate should be not more than three hours (C0.333) citation needed], and it should be float charged properly. With less careful use, a lifetime as few as 500 cycles might be expected, dependent upon the use environment.
Because of calcium added to its plates to reduce water loss, a sealed AGM or gel battery recharges more quickly than a flooded lead acid battery of either VRLA or conventional design. "From a standard car, 4WD or truck alternator they will recharge quickly from full use in about 2 to 3 hours. A deep cycle wet cell battery can take 8-12 hours to achieve only 70% to 80% of its potential charge." Compared to flooded batteries, VRLA batteries are more vulnerable to thermal runaway during abusive charging. The electrolyte cannot be tested by hydrometer to diagnose improper charging that can reduce battery life.
AGM automobile batteries are typically about twice the price of flooded-cell batteries in a given Battery Council International (BCI) size group; gel batteries as much as five times the price