Gel batteries are maintenance-free and safer than their alternatives but still require recharging.
In fact, they have special charging requirements. So how do you charge one?
The best way to charge a gel battery is by using a smart charger specially designed for it. Otherwise, you can apply the constant voltage charging method (at 14.4V). Regardless, charge a gel battery slowly and steadily, continuously monitor the charging process for charge and temperature to prevent overcharging, and use desulfation mode if the battery has no charge left. Follow the manufacturer’s precise instructions, if provided.
Charging a gel battery correctly is important because it is delicate and can easily get damaged if charged improperly or overcharged.
Charging a Gel Battery
When charging a gel battery, I recommend the following:
- Using a smart battery charger specially designed for gel batteries (or not charging higher than 14.4V if applying constant voltage charging);
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions, if provided;
- Charging at a slow and steady rate;
- Continuously monitoring the charging process (for charge and temperature and to prevent overcharging);
- Using desulfation mode if the battery has no charge left.
I will go into detail to show you how to apply them to charge a gel battery. There are other ways of charging if you don’t have a smart charger, but you must take precautions.
Don’t Use an Ordinary Charger
Don’t use an ordinary battery charger to charge a gel battery.
Otherwise, it may overheat and quickly lose its capacity to retain a charge. Special chargers are available for charging such batteries.
It is also important to use the right charger because gel batteries are often used for special purposes where safety is paramount, such as medical equipment and backup power systems.
Using a Smart Charger
A smart battery charger designed for charging a gel battery is the best way to charge it.
It has a built-in microprocessor continuously monitors and adjusts the charging process to ensure optimal charging.
If you can’t access one, I’ve covered some alternative options below.
Slow and Steady Charging
The ideal way to charge a gel battery is usually slow and steady.
So, set a low amperage. Also, be careful not to overcharge the battery. Monitor the battery carefully and disconnect the charger when it’s fully charged.
Continuous monitoring is important to protect the battery.
You must monitor the following:
- The charging rate – to ensure it is appropriate and not too high that it would damage the battery.
- The charge or voltage level – to know when the gel battery is fully charged so you can disconnect it immediately and avoid overcharging.
- The temperature – to detect excessive heat in case of a problem with the charging, such as weak or damaged cables, and to prevent overcharging.
- The charging time – to ensure it doesn’t go over to prevent overcharging.
As you can see, the most important thing is to avoid overcharging the gel battery. Otherwise, it can lead to internal gassing and rapid deterioration of the battery.
The desulfation mode on a gel battery charger breaks down sulfation build-up on the battery’s plates.
It is necessary to enable the battery to hold a charge well.
Constant Voltage Charging
There’s another way to charge a gel battery if you can’t access a smart charger.
The alternative is to charge the gel battery at a constant voltage of 14.4V. Under constant voltage charging, you have two further options:
- Float charging maintains the battery at full capacity without overcharging it, thus making it always ready for immediate use.
- Fast charging is quicker, but you must manually disconnect the charger once fully charged to prevent overcharging (or switch to float charging mode).
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