How can I evaluate the health and charge state of a battery?
Routine battery examinations detects irregularities in the charging system as well as in the batteries. The principle method is to examine the electrochemistry of the battery through hydrometric electrolyte inspection. As previously discussed, this important examination cannot be accomplished with sealed absorption or gel batteries. Voltage readings alone require experience to interpret. Hydrometric readings will uncover early warnings of overcharging or over discharging before batteries are damaged. The state-of-charge and reliability of a lead acid battery can best be determined by the specific gravity of the electrolyte measured directly with a common bulb-type hydrometer with a glass float. We do not recommend the ball float type hydrometer. Specific gravity is a unit of measurement for determining the sulfuric acid content of the electrolyte. The recommended fully charged specific gravity of marine batteries is 1.255 to 1.265 taken at 80ĄăC More than .025 spread in readings between fully charged cells indicates that the battery may need an equalization charge. If this condition persists, the cell is failing and the battery should be replaced. Since water has a value of 1.000, electrolyte with a specific gravity of 1.260 means it is 1.260 times heavier than pure water while pure concentrated sulfuric acid has a specific gravity of 1.835.