Frequently Asked Questions From
Windsor and Essex County Customers
Windsor Starter’s Powerhouse has been in business for more than four decades and has encountered many frequently asked questions from Windsor and Essex County customers. Our team has provided a number of informative and helpful answers below in hopes of giving you the correct information to make an informed decision.
A: The list is endless but almost every battery for every purpose.
Q: What is Your Warranty Policy?
A: Although we take great care in choosing the best suppliers human error is unavoidable and occasionally products fail under warranty. We stand behind everything we sell and all warranties are handled in-house. Please refer to your receipt for specific warranty information as each battery type has its own warranty terms and conditions. Please note that no battery will be considered for warranty without original proof of purchase.
Q: What is Your Return Policy?
A: Product can be returned for a refund or exchange provided it is unused and in its original packaging. A restocking fee may apply for special order items.
Q: Can I Drop Off My Old Batteries at Your Location?
A: Yes, we will properly dispose of your old batteries at no charge. We actually buy scrap batteries – rates vary based on size. Call if a larger pick-up of old batteries is required. Remember: Exchanges are required when you make a battery purchase.
Q: Battery Maintenance Information
A good estimate of a battery’s state of charge can be made by measuring the voltage across the battery terminals with the battery at rest.
Take the reading while all loads are off and no charging sources are producing power.
Connect a voltmeter across the positive and negative outputs of the battery or battery bank.
The following table will allow conversion of the readings obtained to an estimate of the state of charge.
The table is good for batteries at 77°F. If the batteries are at a lower temperature you can expect lower voltage readings.
Q: How Do I Store My Battery If I’m Not Using It for Extended Periods?
A: Periods of inactivity can be extremely harmful to lead-acid batteries. When placing a battery into storage, follow the recommendations below to ensure that the battery remains healthy and ready for use.
NOTE: Storing, charging or operating batteries on concrete is perfectly OK. It’s an old myth
Q: How Often Should I Charge My Stored Battery eg: Power Sport Battery?
A: Any type of lead-acid battery should always be left in a fully charged condition. Having done that, you should either charge your battery every 30 days or so, or consider getting a smart charger to maintain your battery all the time. Some of these new smart chargers will hold the voltage at its prime voltage, while reducing the current to almost nil, preventing overcharge even when left on for months at a time. A battery will self-discharge over time, even while not in use or connected to anything, so a smart charger is a great investment. Caution: We have found that some Battery Tenders have actually caused overcharging in some power sport battery applications.
The most important things to avoid:
Freezing - Avoid locations where freezing temperatures are expected. Keeping a battery at a high state of charge will also prevent freezing. Freezing results in irreparable damage to a battery's plates and container and voids warranty.
Heat - Avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators or space heaters. Temperatures above 80° F accelerate the battery's self-discharge characteristics.
Step by step storage procedure:
Completely charge the battery before storing
Store the battery in a cool, dry location, protected from the elements
During storage, monitor the specific gravity (flooded) or voltage. Batteries in storage should be given a boost charge when they show a 70% charge or less, 12.45 voltage
Q: What is the Difference Between Starting Batteries and Deep-cycle Batteries?
A: Starting batteries (sometimes called SLI for starting, lighting, ignition) are commonly used to start and run engines. Engine starters need a very large starting current for a very short time. Starting batteries have a large number of thin plates for maximum surface area. The plates are composed of a Lead "sponge", similar in appearance to a very fine foam sponge. This gives a very large surface area, but if deep cycled, this sponge will quickly be consumed and fall to the bottom of the cells. Automotive batteries will generally fail after 30-150 deep cycles if deep cycled, while they may last for thousands of cycles in normal starting use (2-5% discharge).
Deep-cycle batteries are designed to be discharged down as much as 80% time after time, and have much thicker plates. The major difference between a true deep cycle battery and others is that the plates are Solid Lead plates - not sponge. This gives less surface area, thus less "instant" power like starting batteries need. Although these can be cycled down to 20% charge, the best lifespan vs cost method is to keep the average cycle at about 50% discharge.
Q: In Which Situation Should a Deep-cycle Battery Be Used?
A: Deep-cycle batteries are used when more than half of the capacity of the battery is used per cycle. Deep-cycle batteries are most commonly used within marine applications, electric vehicles, golf carts, electrical mobility devices and solar applications.
Q: What is an AGM or Sealed Lead Acid Battery?
A: AGM batteries are just like flooded lead-acid batteries, except the electrolyte is being held in the glass mats, as opposed to freely flooding the plates. Very thin glass fibers are woven into a mat to increase surface area enough to hold sufficient electrolyte on the cells for their lifetime. These mats are wrung out 2-5% after being soaked in acids, prior to manufacture completion and sealing. The AGM battery can now accumulate more acid than is available and never spill a drop.
The plates in an AGM battery may be in any shape. Some are flat, others are bent or wound. AGM batteries, both deep cycle, and starting are built in a rectangular case to BCI battery code specifications. Optima Battery builds a patented cylindrical AGM series of batteries that are fashioned to fit the same BCI battery size specifications as any other battery.
Q: What is the advantage of an AGM Sealed Lead Acid Battery over a standard Lead Acid Battery?
AGM Sealed Lead Acid Batteries have several advantages such as:
Purer lead in the plates, as each plate no longer needs to support its own weight, due to the sandwich construction with AGM matting. Traditional cells must support their own weight in the bath of acid
Fluid retention – un-spillable
High specific power or power density, holding roughly 1.5x the AH capacity of flooded batteries due to purer lead
Low internal resistance allowing them to be charged and discharged quite rapidly
Water conservation - never requires addition of water
Acid encapsulation in the matting
Operation well below 0°F or -18 °C
Availability of UL, DOT, CE, Coast Guard, and Mil-Spec approved types
Vibration resistance due to the sandwich construction
Q: What is Battery Capacity?
A: The capacity of a battery is specified as the number of Amp-Hrs that the battery will deliver at a specific discharge rate and temperature. The capacity of a battery is not a constant value and is seen to decrease with increasing discharge rate. The capacity of a battery is affected by a number of factors such as active material weight, density of the active material, adhesion of the active material to the grid, number, design and dimensions of plates, plate spacing, design of separators, specific gravity and quantity of available electrolyte, grid alloys, final limiting voltage, discharge rate, temperature, internal and external resistance, age, and life history of the battery.
Q: What is a NiCad Battery?
‘NiCd’ is the chemical abbreviation for the composition of Nickel-Cadmium batteries, which are a type of secondary (rechargeable) batteries.
NiCad batteries are different from typical alkaline batteries or lead-acid batteries in several key ways. One of the main key differences is in cell voltage. A typical alkaline or lead-acid battery has a cell voltage of approximately 1.5 V, which then steadily drops off as it is depleted. NiCad batteries are unique in that they will maintain a steady voltage of 1.2v per cell up until it is almost completely depleted. This causes the NiCad batteries to have the ability to deliver full power output up until the end of their discharge cycle. So, while they have a lower voltage per cell, they have a more powerful delivery throughout the entirety of the application. Another reason the NiCad batteries can deliver such high power output is that they have very low internal resistance. Because their internal resistance is so low, they are capable of discharging a lot of power very quickly, as well as accepting a lot of power very quickly. Having such a low internal resistance keeps the internal temperature low as well, allowing for quick charge and discharge times. This feature, combined with the constant voltage of the cells, allows them to put out a high amount of amperage, at a consistently higher voltage than comparable alkaline batteries.
One of the most practical applications for NiCad batteries is cordless power tools. Power tools demand a high amount of power delivery throughout the entire time of use and do not function as well with dropping voltages as a typical battery would deliver. With NiCad technology, power tools are able to operate at full capacity for the entire time of use, not only the first few minutes of operation. With a Lithium-ion, alkaline, or even a lead-acid battery, the power tool will perform extremely well from the start, with a steady decline in power, until the power tool barely works at all. NiCads, on the other hand, will cause the power tool to stay at full power up until the very end of the charge. Not only that but then NiCads can be safely charged in as little as 1-2 hours.
When storing NiCad batteries, be sure to pick a cool, dry place. The temperature range for storing batteries is between −20 °C and 45 °C. When preparing to store NiCad batteries, be sure to discharge the batteries fairly deeply. The range in recommendations is between 40% and 0% charged when going into storage. The self-discharge rate for NiCad’s is right around 10% at 20 °C and rising up to 20% at higher temperatures. It is recommended not to store NiCads for an extended amount of time without occasionally using the batteries.
NiCad batteries contain Cadmium, a highly toxic heavy metal. Never burn NiCads, and never throw them in the trash or break them open. Always recycle NiCad’s at an official NiCad recycle place. As long as NiCads are kept sealed, and never short-circuited or severely overcharged, NiCad batteries are perfectly safe to use and do not vent toxic material. If a NiCad battery is treated well, it should last to the 1000 cycle mark. Speed charging NiCads can slightly shorten their lifespan, as can extend improper storage.
Q: What is the Best Application for NiMH Batteries?
A: NiMH batteries are composed of the material - Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) which has many advantages over other battery construction materials.
Most all applications, where there is high energy consumption and demand, is where NiMH belongs. The most popular applications are digital cameras, PDA’s, handheld games, portable music players, video devices and toys. If you find yourself constantly buying alkaline batteries for an application then you should consider using rechargeable NiMH.
Lower capacity rechargeable AA batteries -1700 up to 2000mAh mAh can be recharged up to 1000 times in overnight slow charge mode. 2100 to 2400 mAh rechargeable batteries can be recharged up to 600 to 800 times in overnight slow charge mode. The new Higher Capacity AA 2500 mAh rechargeable batteries have greater power capacity but can only be recharged approx 500 times in the overnight mode. Capacity improvement or quick charging will always decrease the number of cycles. Every cell available on the market above 2100 mAh will have below 1000 charge cycles
NiMH batteries are not suited for a situation where the battery is not used within a 30 day period or low energy draw devices, for example, smoke alarms, emergency flashlights, clocks, TV remotes, etc. This is because they self-discharge about 1% per day so if used in a low energy consummation or stand-by device the battery will only last about 90 days before requiring a recharge.
Before you use your new NiMH batteries for the first time you need to charge them fully. Please note that for new NiMH batteries, it is often necessary to cycle them at least three to five times or more before they reach peak performance and capacity. The first several times that you use your NiMH batteries you may find that they discharge quickly during use. Don’t worry, this is normal until the batteries actually structure internally.
Q: The Most Common Battery Terms and Abbreviations
A:AC Current (Alternating)- a current that varies periodically in magnitude and direction (A/C)
Ampere (Amp)- the unit of measure of current flow through a conductor or circuit
AH (Ampere-hour)- this figure is the time a battery can maintain a constant current under a specific discharge period
Capacity- capacity describes the total amount of electricity a battery contains. With rechargeable batteries, the overall capacity it can provide can easily be reduced if not correctly recharged
CCA (Cold Cranking Amperes)- the Cold Cranking amperes (CCA) of a battery measures how well it will perform at a certain temperature. In Europe, the most common rating is the SAE (Society of Automobile Engineers) rating of -18c. A figure listed as being SAE rated will mean that at -18c it can provide that many amps over a 30 second period. The higher the CCA rating, the better that battery will be at starting a vehicle
Current- current designates the flow of electricity through an electrical circuit. A higher reading indicates a more powerfule current
Cycle- when a battery has been fully discharged and then recharged, that is classified as one cycle
DC Current (Direct)- an electrical current flowing in one direction only. A battery delivers direct current (D.C.) and must be recharged with a direct current
Discharging- when a battery is delivering power, it is also in the process of discharging
Electrolyte- this is a mixture of water and sulphuric acid that fills a lead-acid battery and allows the storage of electrical power
Element- the element inside a battery, is a set of positive and negative plates assembled with separators
RC (Reserve Capacity)- very similar to an ampere-hour reading, reserve capacity is calculated in minutes and much easier to understand. The RC reading is the length of time in minutes that a battery can provide a current of 25amps at a temperature of 25c until it is drained down to 10.5v
Sulphation- a common cause of battery failure, sulphation occurs when a battery is left to stand in a partly charged state. The most common indicators of sulphation are cloudy battery acid and a strong egg-like smell, particularly when charging.
Battery State of Charge Voltage Table
If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Windsor Starter’s Powerhouse team.