Slow-discharge batteries: how to choose them?

The characteristics of slow-discharge batteries make them suitable for powering certain vehicles, such as motor homes, boats or tractors. They can also be used in traffic lights or solar panels. There are several types of slow-discharge batteries, which must be chosen carefully.

What is a slow-charge battery?

A slow-charge battery has a much longer service life than a conventional starter battery. As the name implies, it discharges slowly, allowing it to provide stable energy for a long period of time.

With a slow-charge battery, your vehicle will be much less likely to discharge. In fact, this battery can withstand up to 200 or 300 charge/discharge cycles, and even more. Despite these repeated cycles, the slow-charge battery remains in good condition. Even if the battery is in a deep discharge situation, for example with a capacity of around 10%, it will continue to function, unlike a starter battery.

These specific characteristics partly explain the higher price of a slow-charge battery.

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Voltage and capacity

The most common voltage is 12 volts. This is the voltage provided by a starter battery. This is also the voltage that most household appliances use.

To supply a boat or camper van with a long-lasting power supply, it is better to use a higher voltage of around 24 volts for the slow-discharge battery.

The capacity of the battery, expressed in ampere-hours, is another important parameter. It indicates the amount of electrical energy it is able to supply after being fully charged. Given the amount of energy required to operate a motor home, for example, a high capacity slow-charge battery is needed. You can therefore choose a battery with a capacity of 200 ampere-hours or more. Before purchasing the battery, check the capacity information on the product.

The number of cycles

This element is essential, as it allows you to appreciate the longevity of a slow-discharge battery.

On some models, the discharge rate achieved is 100%. In this case, the number of charge and discharge cycles is often in the order of 200 or 300, but if, before recharging the battery, the rate of discharge is 50%, the battery may experience up to 1000 cycles. Some models may have even higher cycle rates.

The different types of slow-discharge batteries

While taking these parameters into account, the user can choose between several types of slow-discharge batteries. Specialist websites will be able to provide you with important additional information about slow-release batteries to help you make your selection.

The so-called “open lead” battery is probably the most common. To work, it needs a supply of distilled water. Monitoring is necessary when charging this battery. During this operation, the voltage must not exceed a certain threshold. To ensure optimal operation and to avoid premature wear and tear, it is best to charge the battery slowly. In order to really put it into operation, the battery must be fully charged and discharged.

The so-called “closed lead-acid” battery has the same overall characteristics. However, it is not necessary to add distilled water. This type of battery is used a little less often, probably because of its higher cost.

You can also choose an AGM slow-charge battery. These are sealed batteries that require little maintenance. They can receive fast charges and develop high power. However, even if the discharge capacity is very high, it is best to avoid completely discharging an AGM battery. Unlike a gel battery, this can cause damage to the battery.

Gel batteries also have their advantages. The cells of this battery are not filled with sulphuric acid and water, as is the case with conventional lead-acid batteries, but with gel. Even if you fully discharge your gel battery, it will still have the same capacity. This means that its performance does not deteriorate over time. If you need a battery for everyday life, with many cycles including deep discharges, the gel battery is the right choice. It should also be noted that the gel battery withstands extreme temperatures better than the AGM battery. All these advantages of the gel battery explain its higher price.

Finally, both AGM and gel batteries are sealed, are shock resistant and do not require any special maintenance.

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