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Battery Charging in Float vs. Cycling Environments

Garth Corey

In lead-acid battery systems, cycling systems are often managed using float management strategies. There are many differences in battery management strategies for a float environment and battery management strategies for a cycling environment. To complicate matters further, in many cycling environments, such as off-grid domestic power systems, there is usually not an available charging source capable of efficiently equalizing a lead-acid battery let alone bring it to a full state of charge. Typically, rules for battery management which have worked quite well in a floating environment have been routinely applied to cycling batteries without full appreciation of what the cycling battery really needs to reach a full state of charge and to maintain a high state of health. For example, charge target voltages for batteries that are regularly deep cycled in off-grid power sources are the same as voltages applied to stand-by systems following a discharge event. In other charging operations equalization charge requirements are frequently ignored or incorrectly applied in cycled systems which frequently leads to premature capacity loss. The cause of this serious problem: the application of float battery management strategies to cycling battery systems. This paper describes the outcomes to be expected when managing cycling batteries with float strategies and discusses the techniques and benefits for the use of cycling battery management strategies.

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