Do SLA Batteries Need Venting?
Do SLA Batteries Need Venting?
You may at some stage have heard about battery venting but may not understand what it means. In this article, we’ll take a look at what battery venting is, why it occurs and how the process is different for different lead acid batteries types.
What are SLA batteries?
SLA or Sealed Lead Acid batteries are often also referred to as VRLA or Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries. These different names refer to exactly the same type of battery. The biggest difference between conventional lead acid batteries and SLA batteries is that SLA batteries are sealed during the battery manufacturing process as the name indicates. This results in them not venting oxygen and hydrogen into the air while they are being recharged. These gasses are instead absorbed by the electrolyte that is inside the battery. This is also why it’s not necessary to add distilled water to SLA batteries as had to be done with conventional lead acid batteries.
What is Battery Venting?
Let’s first take a look at what lead acid batteries are and where they are used. Lead acid batteries are commonly used in a wide variety of different applications including trucks, cars, boats, and many other vehicles, as well as in equipment such as industrial scrubbers, UPS backups, and electric wheelchair batteries. When a lead acid battery is recharged, the electricity that flows through the water in the electrolyte of the battery divides it into oxygen and hydrogen.
Both oxygen and hydrogen are highly flammable and have to be removed from the battery. This is done through venting. The lead acid battery will release the gasses during charging so that they don’t cause pressure to build up inside the battery. This is done via a vent cap that is situated on the battery’s top and allows the oxygen and hydrogen to seep through.
Safety Tips for Lead Acid Batteries
Since oxygen and hydrogen are both flammable, caution should be exercised when lead acid batteries are stored or recharged. Lead acid batteries should only be stored in a well-ventilated area removed from any open flames or sparks. The vent cap should also be kept free of any obstructions. When charging a lead acid battery personal protective gear must always be worn including a face shield or acid-resistant goggles and safety gloves. Wearing an acid-resistant apron or a lab coat and a pair of safety shoes is also recommended.
If a battery charger is used, ensure that it matches the battery’s chemistry and voltage. The battery should also never be overcharged as this will boil the internal components and result in additional venting. The charger should be disconnected once the battery has been charged fully. An alternative would be to use a battery maintainer that will automatically switch off once the correct voltage has been reached.
Do Sealed Batteries Have To Be Vented?
Although SLA batteries don’t release gasses regularly, they can still vent under specific conditions. When a battery is overcharged, it will cook the electrolyte and this will produce a higher pressure than what the battery can maintain. When a battery is charged too fast it will also lead to gas building up faster than what can be recombined with the water in the battery. With either of these scenarios, the SLA will release the pressure by venting gasses via a one-way pop-up valve that is located in the body of the battery.
The prevent the above from happening, follow the same safety rules that apply to a traditional lead acid battery, i.e. storing the SLA battery in a well-ventilated area far from any open flames or sparks. Don’t overcharge the SLA battery and use an appropriate charger.
Do Gel Batteries Have To Be Vented?
Gel batteries are also a type of VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) battery. What makes a gel battery different than other SLA batteries, is that its electrolyte is mixed with a silica additive, turning it into a gel-like substance. Gel batteries generate a minute amount of fumes due to this unique design, and this reduces its need to vent.
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