The Ultimate Guide to Batteries


Typically, batteries are the primary energy source in the car or motorcycle, storing chemicals and not electricity. How do you get electricity then? The two different forms of lead found in the acid mixture react to create an electrical force. Consequently, the electrochemical reaction converts the chemical energy to electrical energy.

The battery can power electrical functions like; starting, ignition, charging, lighting (in bikes without powering the engine), and accessories.

Therefore, a storage battery is an electrochemical mechanism that creates voltage and carries electrical current. Most importantly, you should note that a battery does not hoard electricity. Instead, it stocks a range of chemicals whereby the reaction of the chemicals produces electricity in the end.

Did you know that the correct battery can last up to 5 years? Preferably, get the lithium batteries from BC Battery for such an extended service. Read on.


What Are The Main Functions Of Batteries?

The role of batteries in an automobile engine is as below.

When the engine is off, the electricity from the battery can operate lighting, accessories, or other electrical systems. Usually, this occurs in the motorcycle’s lighting system.

The battery is also used to power the motor to run the engine. The flow from the battery operates the starter motor in electric start vehicles to supply sufficient current for the ignition system in engine cranking.

Electricity from the battery is necessary to boost the charging system when the vehicle’s electrical load surpasses the charging system’s capacity to create electricity. In case of high demand to keep the engine running, the battery and alternator provide electricity. However, this situation is only common in vehicles and not motorcycles because they have limited electrical stuff.


Parts of a Battery

Usually, most people only see the outer part of the battery but have no idea that it involves collecting other components. Therefore the anatomy of an automotive battery for an engine includes;

  • Container: This is the steel that holds the battery plates, electrolytes, and cast-on straps. The container serves as a protection to reduce the vibration impact hence prolonging the life of the battery.
  • Cathode: This is the electrode that dropped by the electrochemical reaction.
  • Separators: They are the non-woven fabric used to separate the electrodes.
  • Anode: These are oxide electrodes made of powered zinc steel.
  • Electrolyte: This is the path where ions move in the cell. Usually, it is in the form of potassium hydroxide solution in water carrying the ionic current in the battery.
  • Collector: It is the brass pin found at the center of the cell conducting electricity outside.


Characteristics of a Battery

Because automobile engines differ, the features of the batteries are also diverse. General characteristics of a battery include;

  • It comes in different sizes to match the needed performance of the automobile’s engine.
  • It adjusts to reasonably high and low-temperature operations.
  • Usually, it produces an efficient electromotive force.
  • It involves proper float operation.
  • Available in different budgets depending on the type and distribution, which can be local
  • It carries a high electric circuit voltage of all wet electrolyte battery mechanisms.
  • A battery has good charge maintenance for broken charge applications.
  • Easily recycled cells.
  • It provides a level of charge measured by electrolyte density and EMF.


Types of Batteries

The common types of batteries used in automobiles include;

Starting, Lighting and Ignition Batteries: Commonly known as SLI, these types of batteries are common in automotive. As its name suggests, the SLI is for starting a vehicle or motorcycle while also providing electricity to the ignition. Better still, this model also supplies electrical energy to devices like radio, headlights, and other accessories. SLI’s have a low charging ring, which means it takes a short time to run down and recharge.

Deep Circle Batteries: A deep circle battery provided perfect usage for sea vehicles, golf carts, small leisure vehicles, and more. This is due to the sustained power for an extended period.

Valve Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries: These batteries have low maintenance because they do not need frequent adding of water to the battery cell. Due to this, there is a seal on the battery, allowing no slight chance for care or servicing. Once it gets damaged, the only solution is a replacement.

Also, it comes in two types; AGM or Absorption Glass Mat and Gel Cell batteries. The AGM provides maximum power in a short surge than the other sealed models. This occurs because of the speedy reaction between the electrolyte and fine fiberglass surface mat.

Conversely, Gel cell batteries are popular for such reaction due to their silica-based electrolyte. More so, they perform well on deep circle uses such as golf wagons and marine vehicles. However, they are less active in extreme temperatures of hot or cold.

Wet Cell or Flooded Batteries: Compared to all the other battery types, wet cell batteries are cost-effective but require frequent maintenance. According to its name, the wetness is from the liquid substance inside, usually water, sulphuric acid, and lead solution. This combination produces and supplies the needed electrolyte that loses after some usage.

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries: The latest generation automobiles, including electric and hybrid cars and motorcycles, use Lithium batteries. A winning benefit of lithium batteries is storing more energy and weigh less than lead batteries. However, the lifespan of lithium batteries is a maximum of 3 years which is somehow short. Also, they tend to be more expensive than most batteries.


How Does A Battery Work?

Even though automobile batteries have complex terms and parts, the working principle is easy and exciting. A significant portion of the work is dependent on a lead-acid chemical reaction to activate the electrical components.

The SLI is the standard type mentioned, which supplies short surges of energy to muscle the accessories, particularly the engine starter motor. It starts the battery, and immediately the engines begin to operate, the alternator reinstates the charge to the battery.

Similarly, imagine a battery as a power source that changes a chemical effect into electrical energy.

Typically, SLI batteries consist of six cells, with two plates at each. One plate is from the lead while the other from lead dioxide. A single cell can produce around 2-volts of energy after immersing the plates immersed in Sulphur acid, enabling the two vessels to be effective. This acid will initiate a reaction on the lead dioxide plate, producing ions and lead sulfate.

The ions generated by the lead dioxide plate affect the other plate causing it to create lead sulfate and hydrogen. This results in a chemical reaction that causes electrons; the electrons travel around the plates and produce electricity. The electricity streams out through the terminals to ignite the car and power several electrical parts of the car.

It is possible to jumpstart the battery since the chemical reaction procedure is entirely adjustable. This is why the engine alternator can charge the engine all through the duration of its lifespan.


How to Conduct a Visible Battery Inspection

It is possible to tell if a battery is in good condition just by looking at it. However, there are specific parts you should inspect to establish the overall situation. This is how you should carry out a visible battery inspection;

  • It would help to search for cracks in the battery cover and wrecked terminals. Damages or breakages cause electrolyte leakage, which calls for an immediate replacement.
  • Also, check for split or damaged cables or connections. Broken wires and links tend to create unwanted body earth hence needing replacement.
  • Inspect for corroded terminals and dirt or acid on the top of the case. Preferably, it would help if you cleaned the filth on the terminals and case top using a solution of water and baking soda. If the corrosion is thick ad-heavy on the terminals, scrub it off using a wire brush tool.
  • Scrutinize for an unfastened battery hold-down or cable connections. First clean and securely fasten, as necessary.
  • Examine the fluid level of the electrolyte through either the translucent plastic case or by opening the vent caps and peeping straight into each cell. The ideal liquid level should be 1/2″ over the separators, usually 1/8” below the fill ring. In case it is low, fill it with distilled water to the recommended level. Be careful not to overfill.
  • Look out for discolored electrolyte, which is a result of overcharging or vibration. Usually, this causes extreme self-discharge, which requires correction of the cause and battery replacement.
  • Ensure that the battery is always retained in as high a state-of-charge as needed without creating extreme overcharge. Always recharge instantly after use.
  • If you are not planning to use the battery for an extended period, particularly past a month, it would be best to charge it before storing entirely. Also, please give it a stimulating charge every three months.
  • A defective charging system will not retain the battery at full charge. Extreme undercharging enables sulfate on the plates to become rigid and difficult to remove by standard charging. The fragile electrolyte freezes quickly. The undercharging battery may lack to crank the engine.

In conclusion, an automobile battery is the primary power source of the vehicle and motorcycle’s engine, including other electrical components. It’s among the charging system necessities indispensable from a car, particularly in the current electric and hybrid vehicles.