- Mar 20, 2018 -
What is a Gel Battery?
With a long service life and durable design, gel batteries are at the top end of battery design. The standard gel battery shares many properties with AGM deep cycle batteries while the 'tubular' gel battery is more commonly used in large scale, non-portable battery banks.
Both types of gel battery consist of a ‘gelified’ electrolyte that sits between lead plates, making them non-spilling and safe to place on their side. This sealed design also reduces the risk of electrolyte evaporation often encountered in traditional wet cell batteries and makes gel batteries highly resistant to vibration. It also decreases internal resistance, giving the battery higher charge and discharge capabilities.
To help you better understand both standard and tubular gel batteries, we’ve put together an easy guide to their properties, charging needs and uses. You can find more advice on tubular gel batteries and other power storage solutions by mailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Standard Gel Batteries and Deep Cycle Batteries
Both standard gel and deep cycle batteries are sealed lead acid batteries, meaning they share many of the same qualities and are often used for similar applications. Thanks to their non-spillable construction, both can be transported safely and used in areas with little or no ventilation.
Gel and deep cycle batteries do have some differences in their internal construction, however. While deep cycle batteries contain only enough liquid to keep their glass mats wet with electrolyte, gel batteries suspend the electrolytes in thick silica paste. This allows the electrons to flow between plates without leaking from the plate if the battery is broken.
Standard gel batteries are also more expensive than their deep cycle counterparts but if properly charged and cycled, can have a longer life span.
Tubular Gel Batteries
Unlike standard gel batteries, tubular gel batteries are most commonly used for power storage in solar systems. Rather than consisting of multiple 2 volt cells as in some deep cycle batteries, tubular gel batteries have only one two volt cell, meaning that they can be manufactured in sizes as large as 2000AH. This also eliminates the problem of having to pay for the expensive replacement of an entire battery, should one cell become faulty.
Tubular gel batteries do not need to be topped up with water and require very little maintenance, making them ideal for use in off grid battery banks.
Gel Battery Life Expectancy
Good quality tubular gel batteries have a designed service life of up to 20 years and a cyclic life rating of 5500. As previously stated, this is dependent on how well the battery is maintained. As well as charging your gel battery correctly (see below), avoid exposing it to excessive heat and never leave it in an uncharged state.
If charging your gel battery with a solar panel, make sure to use a solar charge regulator as excessive voltage produce by an unregulated panel will damage your battery.
How to Charge a Gel Battery
Gel batteries are more sensitive to voltage spikes and overcharging than their deep cycle counterparts, meaning that you’ll need to use a charger with a specified gel setting. Charging at the wrong voltage can damage the battery and lead to a shortened lifespan and even battery failure.