A lead-acid battery is a rechargeable battery that relies on a combination of lead and sulfuric acid for its operation. This involves immersing lead components in sulfuric acid to facilitate a controlled chemical reaction.
This chemical reaction is responsible for generating electricity within the battery, and it can be reversed to recharge the battery. Remarkably, this technology has been in existence for over a century, dating back to its invention in 1859, and has undergone significant improvements to enhance its efficiency.
How Does a Lead-Acid Battery Function?
In simple terms, the electrical charge of the battery is produced when the sulfate in the sulfuric acid bonds with the lead components. To recharge the battery, this reaction is reversed, returning the sulfate to the sulfuric acid and replenishing the electrical charge.
However, it’s important to note that there is a finite quantity of sulfate ions within the acid, and the available surface area of the lead for bonding is also limited. Consequently, as sulfate is depleted, the battery’s charge weakens.
As a result, lead-acid batteries are not ideally suited for powering devices over an extended period. Instead, they excel in applications requiring short bursts of powerful energy.
Also Read: Do AGM Batteries Need to be Vented?
What are the Types of Lead-Acid Batteries?
These are the different types of lead-acid batteries:
1. Sealed or Maintenance-Free: Introduced in the mid-1970s, these batteries are equipped with valves to manage gas release during high-stress charging and rapid discharging. The term sealed lead acid is somewhat inaccurate, as complete sealing is not possible.
2. Starter: Designed for cranking engines, these batteries deliver high currents for brief, high-power loads lasting a few seconds. However, they are not suitable for deep cycling.
3. Deep-Cycle: These batteries are specifically engineered to provide continuous power for applications like wheelchairs, golf carts, forklifts, and more. They are designed for maximum capacity and offer a reasonably high cycle count.
Also See: What is Deep Cycle Battery?
What are the Uses of Lead Acid Batteries?
The uses are as follows:
1. Sealed Lead–Acid (SLA): Widely employed in small UPS systems, emergency lighting, and wheelchairs. SLA batteries are preferred in healthcare settings like hospitals and retirement homes due to their affordability, reliability, and minimal maintenance requirements.
2. Valve-Regulated Lead–Acid (VRLA): Utilized for power backup in various applications, including cellular repeater towers, internet hubs, banks, hospitals, and airports.
3. Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM): Applied as starter batteries for motorcycles, in micro-hybrid cars with start-stop functions, and in marine vehicles and RVs requiring occasional cycling.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Lead Acid Batteries?
The following points display the advantages and disadvantages of Lead Acid batteries:
- Cost-effective and straightforward manufacturing process.
- High specific power, enabling high discharge currents.
- Reliable performance across a wide temperature range.
- Eliminates the need for block-wise or cell-wise Battery Management Systems (BMS).
- Low specific energy, results in a poor weight-to-energy ratio.
- Slow charging with a full saturation charge requires 14–16 hours.
- Need for storage in a charged condition to prevent sulfation.
- Limited cycle life, with repeated deep-cycling reducing battery longevity.
- Watering requirement for flooded types.
- Transportation restrictions for flooded types.
- Adverse environmental impact.
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