A deep cycle battery is probably something you have come across over the years. Batteries of this kind are commonly present in the industries, homes, devices and etc. They are also newer and more powerful type of batteries. In order to define them, we would have to compare them to starter batteries.
Starter batteries are also known as car batteries and they are developed to deliver a short burst of energy that won’t discharge the complete battery. You may know that if you try to start the engine on a car, but it won’t start, the battery will soon be depleted and you won’t be able to use it until you recharge it. A deep cycle battery is completely opposite. It is designed to be used over a longer period of time, while most of its capacity is depleted. In general, these batteries can be depleted between 45% and 75% at a time. Keep in mind that using more than 80% of its energy capacity may damage the battery, so it isn’t recommended.
In a case you use all the energy that is stored in the battery, you risk damaging the plates inside. The temperature will be significantly increased, meaning that the plates will lose their shape and their ability to store electricity.
When it comes to cars, a 12v deep cycle battery can be used. However, the cranking current is lower than starter batteries have. This means that you will need a much larger deep cycle battery in order to start the engine. If you get the best deep cycle battery you can literally boost the starting time of your vehicle (useful for older vehicles), especially in the cold months.
There are several types of deep cycle batteries. Each one is made in a different way and each one requires different maintenance. Nevertheless, each type is specific in its own way and perfect for just one or two operations.
Deep cycle battery types
Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
This type of batteries is one of the most common you can find right now. They are defined as sealed lead acid batteries, meaning that the battery it is sealed and it has no contact with the air. However, all of them must have a regulator valve, which is used in order to reduce the pressure, if it is significantly increased. In other words, they are not sealed completely. As such, the second name is more common. They are also known as VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries.
A VRLA battery uses nitrogen and oxygen in order to produce electricity. Some models feature gel inside, which has a few advantages, such as allowing for the users to place a battery on unstable location! AGM battery is another example of the batteries of this kind. It stands for absorbed glass mat. The second type is newer and it is known as a gel cell battery.
Thanks to the ability to be mounted in any orientation, these batteries are commonly used in off-grid locations. They are also the most affordable type of deep cycle batteries, suitable for individuals or organizations who need to store huge amounts of energy. The maintenance-free advantage is useful as well. It means that they don’t require conventional maintenance, although cleaning and testing are recommended.
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
Flooded lead acid batteries can be literally explained by their name only. It means that they come in an unsealed container, filled with acid and distilled water. However, this also means that they require frequent monitoring and maintenance. As an owner, you will have to top them with distilled water if the levels are low. Keep in mind that these batteries have several compartments filled with the mixture. Make sure all of them are equally filled in order to get the best results and the most of the energy.
If we take a look at the timeline, we will see that these are the oldest batteries. The main advantages include the price, they are more than just affordable and they are easy to diagnose, in a case of malfunction. Also, they produce a high amount of energy, so they are preferable for more demanding applications. On the other side, they must be placed in an upright position, due to the fact the container is unsealed.
We said that the prices are affordable, but we should add that it varies constantly and it depends on the price of lead on the global market. In addition, we should add that they are the most durable type of deep cycle batteries.
A gel battery is definitely something to take into consideration, due to the simple facts. These are new batteries that come with the latest advantages and extra-long lifespan. As an alternative to the aforementioned kind, there are some pros and cons. First and foremost, you should know that gel batteries of this kind are more expensive than any others! They also contain a lower amount of energy. However, they can be placed in an upright or any other position, if you have a need to and they have a much slower energy discharge. This is also the biggest advantage gel deep cycle batteries have. Compare AGM deep cycle battery to the gel models and you will see the differences. Nevertheless, these batteries are commonly used in the automotive industry and they are suitable for heavy-duty applications.
Maintenance is slightly more complicated. S you already know, they are filled with gel that usually doesn’t have to be refilled. In a case of damage or anything else that can cause lower levels of gel, the topping is mandatory. But, this is a complicated process that requires well-trained personnel. It is also recommended to test them on a regular basis and to perform other safety checks. An interesting advantage is the fact these batteries can withstand lower temperatures much better, so we highly recommend them to areas where temperatures may go below zero.
We should add that gel batteries are capable of withstanding high temperatures and high levels of vibration. This is another reason why they are commonly used in the aircraft industry as well.
Batteries known as lithium ion are the newest and the best when it comes to the energy saving and energy output. But, they are also the most expensive type. They are also very durable and can withstand a lot of pressure, temperature, and vibrations. For example, Porsche, GT3 RS has lithium-ion battery rather than conventional one. Another important advantage is the fact they are lightweight.
Still, they are not something you can simply get anywhere you want. They are more purpose-focused and they are expensive to replace.
Applications of deep cycle batteries
Recreational Vehicles RV
Batteries for this application are more than just important and we can even say special. The main reason for that is the fact they must deliver the most of their energy over and over again. We all know that in RVs, almost everything will be powered by a deep cycle battery, therefore it is impeccable that you get the duration and the effect you actually want. Before everything, we must mention that RV has a starter battery as well, so you won’t be using it when you want to power appliances or any device inside. This also makes deep cycle batteries more important than you may believe.
The next thing to remember is that RVs use acid lead batteries. This is the type that has acid between the lead plates inside. It also means that they require regular maintenance and they must be inspected for leaks. We also recommend acid lead batteries for RVs simply because they can deliver a huge energy output over a longer period of time. The best tip you can get is to look for batteries that can deliver the energy for the most hours. You will have to pay attention to the amp battery rating. The trick is, you actually get 50% of the rating that comes in specifications. Each cycle is completed once you deplete 50% of the battery and recharge it to 100%. If you deplete is up to 80% you will reduce the lifespan, so you will have to replace a battery sooner. Try to remember that improper battery usage can reduce its lifespan up to 50%.
One of more advanced, but yet more desirable tips is to use 2 deep cycle batteries. With just one, you can get about 85AH. However, if you take two of them and pair them (parallel connecting) you will get 170AH! The voltage will say the same, but the amp will be increased by 100%. The situation is similar when it comes to golf batteries. You can use 2 of them (they are much larger) and you can apply series connecting. By doing this, the AH will stay the same, but the voltage will be increased. Most RVs have 12V installation, meaning that everything inside requires this voltage. Important: Just in case, if you use two acid lead batteries and apply series connecting, you will get 24V which will damage the RV installation.
The most common mistakes that can damage or completely destroy a battery are overcharging and undercharging. A good thing is that they are simple to avoid. A bad thing is that most campers make them all the time. Undercharging is when you deplete 50 or more percent of the battery, but you don’t recharge it so it reaches 100%. Overcharging is when you recharge your battery for a longer period of time than it actually needs. This damages the plates inside and causes corrosion. The bottom line is that the ability to store energy will be reduced.
Marine deep cycle batteries
Each deep cycle marine battery is different than any poster type of these batteries and due to a simple reason. They are used in different environments and they must withstand rough usages. All of this means that when choosing the best marine battery you should be careful and you should pay attention to the details. Yes, these batteries are slightly more expensive than any others, but they have a few advantages.
Flooded deep cycle batteries are the most common and they are frequently used in this field. The only drawback with them is the case of a leak. It can damage the battery itself or it can damage the boat as well. Batteries of 200 amps are the most recommended, due to the fact they offer a perfect money-value balance. Keep in mind that cheap batteries are not always the best choice. They can last shorter than more expensive models, meaning that you will have to replace them more frequently.
Each 12v deep cycle marine battery should be properly maintained in order to prolong lifespan. This begins with cleaning the terminals once per year. It is simply mandatory, if you want to get the best results. The cables and the terminals should be protected as well. In a case of corrosion, the power output will be compromised. You can use heat-shrinking hoes in order to get the best protection.
A boat battery must be properly stored as well. Keep in mind that the best place to store it isn’t the boat itself, but the garage or boatyard. Place it in a case and try to protect it from the elements and low/high temperatures. Extremely low or high temperatures can cause a battery to lose its charge. Over an extended period of time, this can cause permanent damages.
Gel marine deep cycle battery may be a slightly better solution. The main benefit is in the construction itself. These models are leak-proof, so they are much safer and they can be used for a longer period of time. Of course, they are slightly more expensive and they can deliver less energy, which isn’t ideal for some boat owners.
Even the best deep cycle battery for marine applications requires occasional recharging. They are not used during the whole year, so they must be recharged just to keep them in a perfect state. Chargers that can deliver around 20 amps are the best choice. You can also get those with 10 amps, but they require more time to recharge the battery.
When choosing the trolling motor battery, make sure you get several parameters met. The dimensions and weight are mandatory, especially if you use it in a small vessel. Then we have the energy output. The more is better, so keep that in mind. Still, we actually recommend gel batteries, due to the fact they cannot leak nor they can cause damage to the vessel.
Golf cars and wheelchair batteries
Golf cart batteries are not the same as the other type’s we were discussing here. The first difference is in the size and weight. They are much smaller and lighter, due to the fact golf carts need low weight in order to provide a better range. They have 3 cells rather than 8, meaning that they generally store less energy. The best deep cycle battery, in this case, should have about 700 cycle lifespan. Just to repeat, a cycle is depleting the battery energy level up to 50% and then recharging it up to 100%. For golf cart, an unwritten rule is that one day is equivalent to one cycle. Some, more affordable models will have 500 cycles lifespan, which is still sufficient.
Most batteries designed for this type have 6 volts, but some usually more expensive and newer have 8V. There is no need to go for a more powerful version if you don’t want to pay for lower weight. Yes, those batteries with 8V are lighter, so the entire golf cart is lighter as well.
A must be mentioned is the fact these batteries are not very resistant to the vibrations and damages. They are designed to be lightweight, not strong, so you may want to be careful with them. Also, they usually last about one year, for extra-common usages and more than 16 months for golf courses where golf carts are not frequently used. Important: There are still some old, conventional starter batteries on the market, available for golf carts, but they are not recommended. They last very short and they have a short range. Deep cycle batteries are a much better choice and the only one we recommend.
Deep cycle batteries for wheelchairs are specific as well. They are commonly used in electric scooters also, just to mention. The main thing here is to get a battery that will fit your wheelchair. The dimensions are important here and they are commonly paired with the suitable price. The basic batteries will cost you around $20, which isn’t much, but don’t expect some huge range. The average battery is at least 3 times more expensive. You should be aware that the recharging time is between 8 and 16 hours, depending on the battery, capacity and the model. The best solution for this issue is to have two batteries. By changing them frequently, you will prolong their lifespan and get the most from your wheelchair.
We said that these batteries are different. This also affects their usage when new. For the first 10 days, they should be depleted only 30% at a time. After that, you will have to recharge them. This is mandatory in order to the inner elements to adapt increasing the capacity to the max and the lifespan. Other care tips such as using your own charger and charging them overnight are important as well. Addition: If you live in a country where the electricity voltage isn’t stable, or it is below average, charge your batteries overnight only, because then the electric grid sends current is the higher voltage.
Solar panels and deep cycle batteries
Solar energy and solar panels are well-known and probably one of the most researched fields in the world. But, all people talk about solar panels and how to harvest more energy and none of them talks about how to store that energy. Even if you harvest a huge amount of renewable energy, but you don’t have a proper battery, you won’t be able to use it properly. The best deep cycle battery for solar panels should be sealed model, just because it won’t leak nor cause any toxins in your home or garage. Flooded lead acid batteries are more affordable and they have a longer lifespan. They are also maintenance free, which is probably an advantage you want to take into consideration. We have to mention that using solar panels to recharge deep cycle batteries that are used on your wheelchairs, scooters, boats and etc. is possible as well. Just make sure the voltage is the same. You can choose between 12, 24, 36 and 48V. We actually recommend the 12V the most, simply because it offers the most versatile applications.
The size of solar panels isn’t related directly, but it is more than just important. The more the merrier. In simple words, the bigger panels you have, the more energy you will produce. More solar energy means that you will use less of conventional energy, so your energy bills will be lowered. But, in order to get the most out of this proposition, you will have to use several deep cycle batteries. By doing this, you will trap the most energy over time and you can recharge several of them at the same time. This is definitely something you will want if you know that recharging an average battery using solar panel takes up to a few days.
The best tip you can get and you should use it to purchase solar panels that will track the sun movement and apply for correct position. By doing this, they simply maximize the energy harvesting and they are almost 100% more effective. Don’t be afraid about the price. In general, solar technology is more affordable than ever and the prices go in one direction only, down. It is the perfect time to invest in solar energy and in deep cycle batteries.
Battery Maintenance and battery tools
During the content, we have mentioned some of the safety tips and instructions, but now is the time to summarize all of them. The most important of them all is that a deep cycle battery should be depleted below 20%. This shortness the lifespan, significantly. Ideally, you should recharge them when 60% of the energy has been used.
Make sure you don’t overcharge them as well. That’s why you need to use the latest and eh best deep cycle battery charger. In a case you overcharge the battery, hydrogen will be released. Normally, it isn’t harmful, but even the smallest spark can cause an explosion! Lithium-ion batteries don’t have this issue. Deep cycle batteries can explode even when they are left on abattery charger for a long period of time. These are just precautions, and in most cases extended charging time won’t cause any issues.
All of these batteries are designed to work at room temperature or minor variations. Exposing them to high temperature can cause an explosion as well and exposing them to extremely low temperatures can cause damage and also reduce the lifespan.
Battery maintenance is more than just simple and it generally doesn’t require any experience. The main thing to know is that terminals should be cleaned regularly. For flooded batteries, you will have to check fluid levels and to top them if needed. On the other hand, we have sealed lead acid batteries. They are maintenance free, for an average consumer, they don’t require any maintenance at all. However, they should inspect occasionally. Gel deep cycle batteries share the same benefit, just they are more resistant and they are leak proof. This is the main reason why they are used in marine-related applications. In addition, you will need a marine battery charger.
A battery that is properly maintained can last up to 5 years or even more, in some cases. But, a battery that isn’t maintained nor charged properly can only last 2 years. In a case of an explosion, a battery will be completely destroyed, as you may believe. This means that you will have to replace it.
A proper battery disposal is important as well. It has an important role in protecting the environment and reducing the cost of new batteries. All of the batteries we have mentioned here can be recycled and they should. By doing this, you make a world a better place and also you will get a discount.
All of the maintenance tips and guidelines apply to conventional deep cycle batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are completely maintenance free and they are much safer. As we already mentioned, they are more expensive as well.
Deep cycle battery charger and switcher
One of the most important tools, related to deep cycle batteries is the charger. The best battery charger purely depends on your needs and on the battery in question. But, some factors are mandatory and more than just recommended. There are some fast chargers on the market. Usually, they are older versions and they are not very recommended. The main issue is the charging time. It is too short, so the battery cannot ‘’absorb’’ that amount of energy in that period of time. This may cause leaks and damages. In most cases, the lifespan will be reduced. Almost any AGM battery charger of the newer generation is known as aslow charger. This means that it will slowly recharge the battery, obviously, completely eliminating the risk of damages and similar issues.
Different batteries have different voltages. This is another factor to consider when looking or a new battery charger. Usually, you will be able to choose between 6, 12 or 24 Volts. The best car battery charger should have this option as well. It is more than a just useful feature that can be needed sometimes or all the time.
An interesting advantage is in-car battery charging. It means that you can plug the charger in the car, in lighter socket and recharge the battery while driving. Chargers of this kind are more than just recommended for people who travel a lot and for those who like spending time in nature.
A must have feature is the charging and monitoring mode transition. It stands for a system that will recharge the battery completely, and then moves to the monitoring, eliminating the risk of overcharging. This system is also known as a deep cycle battery switcher and it's much appreciated. It is commonly related to more advanced battery chargers and therefore used by people who want the most from their batteries.
Automatic chargers are also something that should be, mentioned. They feature 4 modes. At the beginning, they will start with initialization, then they will move to the bulk charging (a mode where a battery is completely recharged) and then they will move to the floating mode. This stands for monitoring and not for charging. Marine battery switch charger works on the same principle.
Supported battery types are something that you should pay attention to. It means that a charger will be capable of recharging WET, Gel and other types of batteries. Some chargers can be used for just one type of batteries, which isn’t perfect nowadays.
At the end, we can just say that because deep cycle batteries are much more than ordinary batteries, you should treat them differently. After all, they are more expensive and they last longer than any other battery on the market. They are also eco-friendly and they can be used paired with solar systems. All you have to do is to order a battery that meets your demands and to use it properly. By doing this, the lifespan will be extended, so this purchase is an investment rather than one-time buying. We helped you in choosing the best deep cycle batteries for any application you have in mind. We also gave you the tips that should be followed, so it is up to you to get the most from your new battery.