Sealed Lead Acid Batteries are extremely popular as solar batteries for use in solar power systems. Extremely affordable, reliable and available in a variety of sizes (from the very small to the very large), sealed lead acid batteries continue to be one of the most trusted components in portable, small and off grid solar power systems. Finding the ideal charge voltage limit for the sealed lead acid system is critical. Any voltage level is a compromise. A high voltage limit produces good battery performance, but shortens the service life due to grid corrosion on the positive plate. The corrosion is permanent and cannot be reversed. A low voltage preserves the electrolyte and allows charging under a wide temperature range, but is subject to sulfation on the negative plate.
Lead Acid Chemistry:
The chemical process of lead acid battery consists of two electrodes-the negative electrode made of metallic lead (Pb) and the positive lead-oxide (PbO2) electrode, immersed in a sulphuric acid solution (H2SO4).
On discharge both the electrodes build up lead sulphate PbSO4 and the electrolyte is converted to H20, whilst opposite occurs during charging.
As the cell approaches full charge and the majority of the PbSO4 has been converted to Pb and PbO2, the charging cell voltage becomes greater than some critical point called the “gassing voltage”. Excessive production of battery gasses is undesirable as it results in wasted energy and a substantial increase in charging time. At the same time, if the gas is not properly vented it will collect and has explosive potential, particularly in environments where electrical sparks are possible.
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