A deep cycle looks a lot like the product that goes into most automobiles, but they’re quite different.
This design is a lead or lithium battery designed to deliver sustained power over a long time. It continues to operate at its expected rating until it reaches an 80% or higher discharge rate. At that point, it must be recharged to continue functioning.
Most manufacturers recommend not discharging a deep cycle battery below 45% to extend its life.
This design stands in contrast to other battery types that deliver short energy bursts before needing to be recharged. They are ideal for marine applications, recreational vehicles, golf carts, forklifts, and renewable energy installations.
The deep cycle function works with lead-acid and lithium technologies. That means users can review four standard types when looking for a battery that meets their needs.
Each deep cycle battery type offers specific advantages and disadvantages to review. It’s up to each person to determine what option works the best in any given scenario.
Here is a closer look at the four battery types.
Deep Cycle Battery Type
Important Information to Review About This Battery Type
Flooded Lead Acid
This battery type is the oldest one in use. It consists of lead plates submerged in a combination of sulfuric acid and water to create an electrolyte mix. During the charging and discharging process, the chemical reaction gets vented from the battery, eventually causing the fluid to dissipate. That means the usable capacity typically maxes out near 50%, and it could be as low as 30%. []
Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM)
Thin fiberglass mats get placed between the lead plates with this battery design. That material absorbs the electrolyte to prevent it from spilling or moving while acting as a dampener. That makes this option highly resistant to vibration and shock. The standard design provides an 80% depth of discharge and 95% charge efficiency. []
Gel (Gel Cell)
Sealed gel batteries have a charge efficiency rating of up to 90% - and sometimes more. It doesn’t have any off-gassing and can handle variable conditions. This technology doesn’t tolerate quick charging, so a low-voltage charger is necessary. If overvoltage occurs, the product could be irreparably damaged. []
This battery option is about 30% lighter than the flooded lead-acid type. It also comes with a usable capacity that can reach 100%. You receive up to 5,000 charge cycles with some designs while having one of the fastest recharge rates available. It provides constant voltage over any discharge rate. When it runs out of power, you stop doing what you’re doing. []
A battery can be a starter and a deep cycle option. You’ll see them marketed as a dual-purpose product.
Although it isn’t a separate type, you’d want to consider that design when the same application requires powerful cranking amps and a low draw for steady support.
Although each deep cycle battery option provides power and offers unique advantages, each requires specific management techniques to achieve the best results.
Here is a closer look at what to expect with each battery type.
· Flooded Lead Acid Batteries. The primary benefit of this type is its affordability. It provides above-average reliability while being tolerant of potential overcharging. You must also provide it with adequate ventilation and keep it in an upright position to prevent electrolyte leakage. Even with perfect care, it has the shortest lifespan.
· AGM Batteries. This battery type delivers several crucial advantages, including being position insensitive, offering a maintenance-free existing, and being durable. It charges quickly, but comes at a higher cost than other options while having sensitivities to overcharging.
Gel (Gel Cell, Sealed Gel) Batteries. With this deep cycle battery, you receive a similar result to the flooded lead-acid design without the risk of fluid loss. The sulfuric acid and
· water get suspended in a silica agent to create a “jelly” or “paste” that doesn’t leak, even if the outer shell becomes compromised. It is spillproof, has some heat tolerance, and requires a unique regulator and charger.
· Lithium-Ion Batteries. The maintenance-free aspect of this type is one of its most outstanding features. It also delivers a powerful punch in a compact and lightweight design with excellent usable capacity. A battery maintenance system is necessary if you want to use this option.
If you’ve got a deep cycle battery that you want to keep in optimal condition, here are some tips to consider implementing.
1. Monitor the charge levels of the battery regularly. Begin the charging process at 50%, and don’t let it drop below 20%.
2. Charge the deep cycle battery even when you’re not using it. Some designs are sensitive to sulfation, but adding current to the mix reduces this risk significantly. When you expect long-term storage, try using a trickle charge for all but the lithium-ion type (it doesn’t need that level of support) to maintain maximum functionality.
3. Rest the deep cycle battery after continuous use. When you give it time to cool, grid corrosion problems aren’t as likely to happen.
4. Clean the battery regularly. It helps to keep the terminal and covers free of corrosion, dirt, dust, and similar problems.
When reviewing deep cycle battery types, it’s essential to look at a few features.
Battery size is essential to think about if you need something that’s easier to carry or reduces the overall weight. You’ll find different voltage ratings across the industry, so choose one with a higher rating to handle a larger load.
Shelf life is critical for those who plan on needing long-term storage. Your battery should have a 10-year or better rating before losing maximum capacity. []
The final step should be to look at the temperature tolerance rating. If you live in hot or cold climates, this feature will let you know how to care for your battery during extreme events.
When you choose the correct deep cycle battery type and care for it appropriately, it should last for up to six years.