A deep cycle battery is specifically designed to have the majority of the battery’s capacity used up without causing any damages to the battery. The normal battery is designed in such a way that when it is completely discharged it causes an increase in the amount of sulfate on the plates. This increased amount of sulfate can build up over a period of time and cause the battery to be unable to function at its full potential. The deep cycle battery plates are much thicker than the normal battery plates so the building up of sulfate is reduced, and the plates do not warp or become disfigured from heavy charging.
Charging Speed of Deep Cycle Battery
The best deep cycle battery charger should charge the battery slowly. You really do not want a rapid charge on a deep cycle battery because during a slow charge the plates are penetrated by the battery acid but when you have a rapid charge there is not a sufficient amount of time for the battery acid to do this penetration. With the reduced penetration, you take a risk of damage to the battery plates and that means a shorter life span for the battery.
A regular battery charger usually charges at 2 amps when it is in slow charge mode and 10 to 15 amps in its fastest charging mode. The deep cycle battery charger may not go past the 2 amp charging speed, which is excellent for the battery.
Maintenance or Float Mode
The majority of deep cycle battery chargers are actually designed for maintenance or float charging rather than for a quick reboot. These deep cycle batteries are often left unused for long periods of time and as the battery sits unused the charge it has begins to be naturally discharged. Over a period of a few weeks to a few months, a battery can naturally become so discharged that it does not have sufficient power to crank the engine or power the motor it is connected to.
The float charger is connected to a battery and when the battery starts to naturally discharge the float charger kicks on automatically and provides the additional charge to restore the power in the battery. When the power is completely restored the float or maintenance charger will automatically shut down and wait until more power is needed.
Cooling Off Period for Deep Cycle Batteries
When you recharge a deep cycle battery to full capacity it is highly recommended that you let the battery have a cooling off or resting period before you connect the battery to the boat, wheelchair, RV, or another implement it is designed to power. If you take the battery straight off of the battery charger and put it to use on your golf cart you stand a chance of burning out your battery. This is due to the heat that is generated while a battery is recharging. Give your battery a few minutes of cool-down time before you put it back into use.
A regular starting battery can go straight from the charger to the equipment it powers and be put back to use. The starter battery does not normally charge as long as the deep cycle batteries do so the regular starter battery does not reach the same internal temperatures.
Deep cycle batteries often have a greater amp storage capacity so they can take a lot longer to charge than the traditional starter battery takes. These increased amp storage capacities also increase the chances that the battery will overheat during the charging. A deep cycle battery charger generally has a safety feature that allows it to shut down if the battery reaches a temperature that is too high.
A deep cycle battery that is placed on a trickle charger, or one that is placed on a charger that does not indicate the amount of charge in the battery, risks becoming cracked from overcharging. Overcharging your battery is the worst thing that you can do to a deep cycle battery. An overcharged battery can even explode causing bodily harm to you or damage to your property.
Skip the Aspirin Myth
You should never put aspirin in your deep cycle battery because the aspirin will reduce the life expectancy of the battery. You can place Epsom salt and distilled water into your battery, but you must mix the Epsom salt with distilled water because Epsom salt will not dissolve in the battery acid and can cause internal damage to your battery.
A deep cycle battery should be placed on a charger and recharged as soon as possible after it has been used. A normal battery does not need to be recharged unless it does not have enough power to crank your vehicle.
Battery Charger Diagnostics
It can take as many as twenty minutes for a deep cycle charger to get an accurate reading on a battery that has been connected to it. A deep cycle battery charger with a voltage regulator eliminates the need for you to check the voltage of the battery charger after a twenty minute period. The voltage regulator will assess and set the proper voltage so your battery is not damaged during charging.
The engine start or cranking assist feature found on many ordinary battery chargers will not be beneficial to a deep cycle battery.
Manual VS Automatic Chargers
Manual chargers require you to select the charging amps and to check on the battery and manually switch the charging amps to a lower setting as the battery gains a charge. Automatic battery chargers adjust their own settings according to the battery they are charging so they can recondition batteries that are becoming corroded and they can charge batteries without causing any damage to the batteries. An automatic battery charger is highly recommended for all deep cycle batteries.
You need to read the owner’s manual that came with your battery so you know what type of battery you have and what type of charger will most beneficial to that battery. You also need to read the instruction manual that is provided with the battery charger so you are familiar with all safety features and connection requirements.