An Introduction to VRLA Batteries
  • VRLA batteries are easy to maintain batteries. VRLA is short for Valve Regulated Lead Acid may be the technical term for easy to maintain batteries. VRLA batteries will also be popularly called Sealed Maintenance Free batteries or SMF batteries simply speaking.

    VRLA batteries develop the oxygen recombination principle. The hydrogen and oxygen which might be emitted in flooded lead acid batteries recombine in Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries to form water. That's the reason you don't have to add sterilized water from the outside as with the situation of FLA batteries, that is are they all easy to maintain.

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    There are 2 primary varieties of VRLA batteries, gel cells and AGM. Gel cells add silica dust on the electrolyte, forming a thick putty-like gel. These are generally termed as "silicone batteries". AGM, short for "Absorbed Glass Mat", batteries feature fibreglass mesh between your battery plates which serves to support the electrolyte.

    However, the recombination process is not 100% efficient. So after a while, the released gases which may have not recombined collect within the VRLA thus enhancing the internal pressure, and still have to be removed to keep up the optimum pressure. This can be done with the help of one-way, pressure-sensitive valves which open when the internal pressure increases over a certain threshold and enable the gases to get vented. For this reason these batteries these are known as VRLA or valve regulated lead acid. Excess gases will also be produced if these batteries are overcharged or discharged at rates greater than the recommended rate.

    The key advantages of VRLA batteries when compared with flooded lead acid batteries are:

    They don't produce gases during normal operation or while charging and will therefore be placed around any electrical equipment or any inflammable material, unlike FLA batteries.

    They just don't emit acid spray even if charged abusively. However, charging abusively will impact the life of the battery adversely and will be ignored without exceptions.

    They are spill-proof and leak-proof.

    They could be found in horizontal position also that's something no longer can do with FLA batteries.

    They are often transported with no restrictions:

    Surface transport: Considered non-hazardous material much like DOT-CFR Title 49 parts 171-189.

    Marine transport: Classified as non-hazardous material according to IMDG amendment 27.

    Air transport: Conform to IATA/ICAO, Special Provision A67.
    The main disadvantages of VRLA battery in comparison with flooded lead acid batteries are:

    They provide lesser discharge currents in comparison to FLA batteries.
    They are higher priced in comparison with FLA.

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