Van, Truck, Trailer, Bus and Coach Aftermarket News in Ireland

Avoiding premature battery failure

Battery failure has long been the number one cause of commercial vehicle breakdowns, but with the fact that many companies are now operating on double, or even triple, driver shift patterns, it is not difficult to see why even original equipment (OE) fitment conventional starting, lighting & ignition (SLI) batteries are struggling to cope with the demands of continuous use.

Add the cost of replacing spent batteries, with call out costs and late delivery penalty payments, and it isn’t hard to understand why it’s costing companies thousands of pounds, according to Ecobat Battery.

Why are they failing?
Although engine starting currents haven’t significantly changed over the years, the recent surge in electrical demands means that conventional SLI batteries are failing at a rate not seen before. This is exaggerated further when cabs double-up as hotel rooms as drivers sleep in their trucks overnight, with the battery becoming the sole source of power for cooking, heating, lighting, GPS and charging tablets or laptops etc.

Other factors, such as multiple drops that use the vehicle’s tail lift, which, due to key-out functions enforced by low-emission zones and laws, are powered only by the battery, also have a dramatic effect as it continues to ‘walk down’ the charge available. In addition, a conventional SLI battery fails to function effectively below 20 per cent state of charge (SOC), so it’s easy to see why restarting the engine is becoming a major problem.

Another issue with SLI batteries is the fact that when idle the acid in the electrolyte sinks to the bottom of the case, which means that after six months, the bottom third is a concentrate, which means it ceases to function and starts to sulphate, where no charge is possible and the remaining two thirds is a dilute, that reduces charge acceptance. This not only reduces the capacity of the battery by more than a third, but it also makes the bottom part of the lead plates brittle and more susceptible to failure

The unfortunate truth is that all this inconvenience is as a direct result of relying on an unsuitable battery design, even in its OE form, which isn’t capable of operating effectively at a low SOC and therefore can’t cope with the demands of modern usage, with many failing in as little as eight to 12 months.

What’s the answer?
Thankfully, Ecobat says there are solutions that both provide an extended battery service life and are affordable and these include the Odyssey AGM and Varta ProMotive AGM.

For the most energy demanding continental requirements the Odyssey AGM, which is engineered with specialist thin plate pure lead technology and can be discharged to 80 per cent from top of charge, compared to SLI being unable to start below 20 per cent. This immediately reduces the risk of a call out to what might only be a flat battery by 60 per cent and safeguards the ability for starting, compared to a conventional SLI battery.

These batteries also overcome the electrolyte and vibration issues of SLI batteries by incorporating absorbed glass matt separators meaning the acid is fully absorbed, so it cannot sink, and with vibration resistance built in, as the plates all sit on a rubber base and are top welded together with hot rubber melt.

Allied with an inherent fast-charging capability even from 80 per cent of discharge, with this option, battery related breakdowns become a very rare occurrence and as they deliver twice the power and three times the life of SLI batteries, they are typically lasting for four years plus.

For similarly high demand situations, the efficient technology incorporated into the Varta ProMotive AGM provides the solution for commercial vehicles with a heavy reliance on numerous power consuming functions, including parking cooler/heaters, without wearing out and causing downtime. It has been developed in collaboration with the leading CV manufacturers to support innovations that will be standard equipment in the future.

For further details, email Ecobat Battery at: