One of the primary concerns about machines is the battery life. Given how inconvenient and costly a replacement battery is, it’s ideal for a battery to not die when businesses need it the most. The solution to this problem is simple enough though: a battery charger.
With a charger, this reduces the worry of changing batteries every time they die or are low. A charger provides a jump to the battery, putting in an electrical current through the battery over a period of time. Heavy-duty industrial battery chargers function better than household battery chargers as these stronger versions can provide a constant voltage and have built-in current limiting features so the machine or motor is overcharged.
Industrial battery chargers are huge battery banks that provide a direct current (DC) output to the load. It is then converted to alternate current (AC) into low voltage AC or low voltage DC. Both industrial batteries and chargers always go hand in hand as these ensure the batteries are fully charged.
Generally speaking, industrial batteries need a high rate charge and what charger they need depends on the type and size of the battery. Another consideration is while many good batteries have a high tolerance for overcharging capacity, some can’t withstand the high rate. This means the charger must have voltage sensing or temperature sensing features.
Any drained battery ought to be recharged as soon as possible or else it’ll end up getting damaged. Chargers also improve battery performance and longevity.
When charging, it’s important to check the polarity too. If the battery or the battery bank are reverse-connected, it can lead to damage or an explosion. Furthermore, check each battery before charging to ensure that the battery wasn’t damaged during use as batteries could release gases and acids.
When To Use Industrial Battery Chargers
Common places to use these chargers include:
- Distributed control panel systems
- Golf carts
- Utility services
- Pallet jacks
- Floor care machines
- Electrical vehicles
- Co-generation projects
- Scissor lifts
- And more
Furthermore, they are essential in industries such as oil and gas, railways, substations, telecommunications, and power plants.
Types Of Industrial Battery Chargers
Battery chargers can be in one of two broad categories – single phase and three phase. The common of the two is three phase. From that, there are several classifications and they are based on their application. Common types are:
- Industrial equipment
- Uninterruptible power supply systems
- Power supply backup
- Electronics industry
- And more
Based on battery type, there are four varieties of chargers to pick from:
- High frequency. The more efficient method for charging batteries that are used in electric forklifts. In comparison to a SCR or ferro-resonant type of charger, this charger has a power savings of between 7% and 15%.
- Silicon controlled rectifiers (SCR). These regulate charging currents by allowing batteries to determine their own charging cycle rate. This is determined by their state of discharge. SCRs will then ensure the battery doesn’t overcharge, thus allowing the battery to discharge at the proper current regardless of its age or temperature. This is one of the most cost-effective options with multi-voltage capability for flooded and sealed maintenance-free batteries.
- Ferro-resonant. An industry standard for flooded lead acid batteries and it is quite reliable, has minimal maintenance and modest upfront costs. Its power conversion circuitry also maximizes the battery’s life due to its constantly tapering charge. It also automatically regulates itself. The output is determined by the state of discharge of the battery along with the battery getting charged based on its depth of discharge.
- SCR/ferro-resonant hybrid. As the name implies, this is a battery that is a combination of both SCR and ferro-resonant types. These types have an improved efficiency when charging standard flooded and sealed maintenance-free batteries.
Lastly there are four sub-categories. Those are:
- Float and boost chargers. Float chargers (FC) are connected to the load bus directly with the boost connected to the battery. The FC supplies a DC load as a constant voltage. On the other hand, the boost charger (BC) quickly charges a discharged battery at a constant current and when it is needed. This system is used to ensure uninterrupted DC power is connected to the DC load.
- Float-cum-boost chargers (FCBC). Both float and boost charging is possible simultaneously through a single converter. From there it switches between two modes: float mode which floats the charge and maintains its self-discharge losses and boost mode where the battery is charged.
- Float and float-cum-boost chargers (FC and FCBC). In both cases, two converters each serve as FCs and FCBCs. Float supplies ensure the floating battery bank is kept fully charged while FCBCs will quickly charge the battery if it’s discharged.
- Dual float-cum-boost chargers (dual FCBCs). With two similar float-cum-boost chargers, they connect with both the battery and load circuit through a mode selector switch. Like FC and FCBC, one feeds the load in float mode, and the second boost charges.
Which Is The Best Charger?
With the latest innovations in recharging batteries lowering costs and boosting energy efficiency, there are several options to consider. Here are some tips to figure out what is the best charger:
- Know the battery type. It’s important to note that some chargers won’t work for many types of batteries while others will charge specific batteries. The main types of batteries commonly used are flooded, gel, AGM, VRLA and maintenance-free.
- Ensure the battery is compatible with the chargers. High-frequency chargers can be used to charge all lead acid batteries. SCR ferro-resonant types are suitable for standard flooded and sealed maintenance-free batteries.
- Note the charging time. This is crucial as the size of the battery will determine how much time it takes to be fully charged when using specific chargers. A charger that has a lower amp rating will take longer to charge. Also, lower amp chargers are generally less expensive.