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1. Introduction

Two different types of lead acid cells are

manufactured by the industry and depending on
the application, these are normally referred to as
mobile or stationary. These are also called
Accumulators or storage cells.

This document includes instructions, which are

applicable for the installation and maintenance
of stationary secondary lead acid cells or

2. Parts of Lead Acid Cell

Parts of Lead acid cell are shown in figure


1. Level indicator
2. Vent plug
3. Terminal ports
4. Cover
5. Separator guard
6. Positive plate
7. Separator
8. Negative plate
9. Container
10. Plate rest

Figure - 1

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 Level indicator and Vent plug.

For all capacities of lead acid cell vent/float plug

shall be of threads M27x3 pitch is provided. The
dimension of vent cum float guide plug are shown in
figure below:
Green mark

Red mark

(M27x3 Pitch)

Float at green
mark level

Float at red
mark level

Figure - 2

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Plastic Skirting
of suitable
colour fire

Microporous body

8 windows of size
25x10 approx

Suitable anti splash

arrangement for
eelctrolyte so that
gasses can pass

Threads M 27x3 pitch

Figure – 3

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6 or 8 holes 0 2
for releasing gas

Figure - 4

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 Plates

The plates, which are actual electrodes, are:

 Spongy Lead
 Lead Peroxide

• The plates will usually be plante or faure types.

• In the plante type the plates are solid type and of
wed construction. Where as, in faure type a plate
grid of antimony alloy is used with the lead peroxide
or spongy lead in a powdered from secured inside a
bay made of this grid.

 Separators

• The separators act as insulating pieces

between the different plates.
• separators are made of either specially
treated wood, perforated rubber, celluloid or
rubber fabric made porous by thick cotton
threads or glass wool.
• The common separator is wood, since it
is the cheapest of all separators.

 Container

• The container is made of vulcanised

rubber, pitch celluloid or glass.

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• Celluloid or glass containers are

normally used for light duty work and celluloid
container for portable work.

 Plate rest

• The plate rest or bottom blocks are raised

ribs either fitted in the bottom of the jar or made
in the jar itself so that the plates do not touch the
bottom and the tope portion is kept at the correct
• These also form a receptacle to collect
the sludge formed during its period of active life.

 Terminal ports

• All the positive plates are welded to one

bar and all the negative plates to another
common bar.
• There is always one more negative plate
then the positive to provide equal working area,
on all sides of the positive plates.
• The outside plates are, therefore, always
negative plates.
• The terminal posts are upward extensions
of connecting bars. This forms the terminal post
and passes through the cover to enable external
connections to be made.
 Cover
• The covers are generally of vulcanized
rubber or pitch.

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• A hole is provided for pouring the

electrolyte and this can be closed by a screwed
• The cap is provided with minute holes
for gases to escape.
• This is also known as ‘Vent Cap’
3. Brief description and working

 A lead acid battery consists of positive and

negative electrodes immersed in an electrolyte
kept in sealed container. The material of the
positive electrode is lead dioxide (PbO2) and
that the negative electrode is spongy lead (Pb).
These electrode are electrically insulated from
each other using separators. The electrolyte is a
suitable mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled
 When the battery is fully charged, the negative
electrode remains as Lead, the positive electrode
as lead dioxide and the concentration of sulfuric
acid solution (specific gravity is between 1200-
 As the battery discharges, the positive and
negative electrodes convert chemically in to lead
sulfate. The chemical reaction consumes the acid
and finally releases water in the electrolyte
solution, thereby reducing the specific gravity.

 Capacity V/S Discharge rate

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• The capacity of the battery is the amount of

electricity that can be obtained from it. It can be
rated in two ways.

• Ampere-hour rating
• Watt-hour rating.

• The ampere-hour rating is always given with the

specified discharge rate, that is.

a) 100 AH at 10 A rate
b) 150 AH at 15 A rate.

• In(a)the maximum discharge current should not

exceed 10 Amps, and the period of discharge at this
rate is 10 hours.
• Similarly, for (b) maximum rate is 15 Amps and
period is 10 hours.
• This is also sometimes expressed as ‘hour rate’ for
example 100 Amps. @ 5 hours rate worked, mean
that the maximum discharge current is 20 Amps.
and the period of discharge is 5 hours. The capacity
always reduces with increase in discharge rate so
that the actual ampere-hour capacity obtained is
usually 80 to 90% of the rated value.

 Efficiency of a secondary cell

• The efficiency of a secondary cell is

defined as the ratio of output of a cell to the
input required to restore the initial state of

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charge under specified conditions of

temperature, current rate and final voltage.
• Generally the efficiency is expressed in
three ways:
• Ampere-hour efficiency.
• Volt efficiency.
• Watt-hour efficiency.

• Ampere-hour efficiency is the ratio of the

ampere hours output to the ampere hours of the
• The ampere-hour loss, which determines
ampere hour efficiency during cycle of charge
and discharge is principally that due to gassing.
• Local action is responsible of certain
amount, but unless the test is spread over a long
period of time or the battery is in a very
unhealthy condition this loss may be
disregarded. Since gassing is due to charging
current in excess of the utilised in charging the
active material, ampere hour efficiency can be
increased by controlling the charging current to
keep it below the value, which will produce
excessive gassing, but such careful control of the
charging rate, and especially if the cycle of
charge and discharge did not involve bringing
the battery to an absolutely fully charged
condition, an ampere hour efficiency of nearly
100% can be obtained.
• Under commercial service conditions
including frequent cycles of charge and
discharge involving nearly the full capacity of

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the battery, an ampere hour efficiency between

85 to 90% may be obtained.
4. Unpacking and storing
 Carefully unpack the cells received from trade
(rough handling could damage them) and check
all the components including the vent plugs, vent
cum float guide, inter cell connectors, nuts and
 Inspect the sides and the bottom of the battery
packing case for any wet spots, which indicate
broken jars/containers. These might have been
broken during handling and transportation.
 Cracked and broken batteries may be rejected
and details may be brought to the notice of the
supplier for replacement.
 The battery must be stored in clean, cool and dry
room protected from sun, rain and dust.

5. Location and Installation

 Mount the batteries in well-ventilated, clean and

dry rooms.
 For small battery installations, natural
ventilation through windows and doors may
normally be sufficient. However, for larger
battery installation (more than 12 cells). Forced
ventilation methods using exhaust fans must be
 Separate battery room are necessary to avoid the
adverse effect of fumes on other interlocking
and power equipment as well as to provide free

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access to the maintenance staff (battery rooms

are not double locked.).
 The battery room shall be provided with acid
proof flooring and acid proof tiles on walls up to
suitable height.
 Wherever, batteries are kept in field inside the
location boxes, suitable openings/holes are
necessary for ventilation.
 Where batteries are housed in location boxes,
these housings shall be painted with acid
resistant paint.
 In some applications, where a few cells are
required to be kept in offices, equipment rooms,
residence etc. they may be housed in wooden
boxes proved with enough holes for ventilation.
 Locate the batteries away from direct Sunrays
and heat emitting system.
 Place the batteries on rugged wooden racks of
sufficient height so that it is possible to inspect
and maintain them properly.
 Two or more coats of acid resistant paint of
approved type shall protect the racks.
 The racks shall be level and mounted on
approved type of insulators.
 A typical arrangement is shown in figure below.

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+ + -

Centre of cells


Figure - 5

Connector Connector

+ - +
Centre of Cells



Figure - 6

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 Lead acid cells of an approved type shall be used

and shall conform to specification no. IRS: S
88/93 for low maintenance lead acid cells.
 The cells shall be installed as per approved
 At the time of installation, capacity test shall be
done and record shall be maintained.
 Insulate the cells from the floor and from each
other using insulators. Place wooden planks
under the batteries wherever the cells are kept on
masonry racks and floors, metallic frames and
location boxes.
 Keep the individual batteries properly aligned
and leveled to avoid stresses on the
connectors/cable. Keeping battery insulator
block under the battery is desirable.
 Ensure proper clearance between adjacent cells
for connecting the battery terminal connectors
and between adjacent rows from the angle of
 Wooden battery racks must be protected against
decay by painting them using acid resistance
paint (Type 2 of IS 158-68).
 On receipt of charged secondary cells, the vent
plugs shall be removed and the height of the
electrolyte shall be noted, if it is below the
prescribed level, the loss may be due to spillage
during transit. The level of the electrolyte can be
restored by adding battery grade acid of
recommended specific gravity.

6. Initial Charging

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 Unless, good facilities are available in the Chief

Signal/Telecom Inspectors depot for charging
secondary lead acid cells and their subsequent
handling and transportation to actual site of
installation it is advisable to do the initial
charging at site.
 Initial charging of the batteries shall be done as
per instructions of the manufacturer and the date
of charging shall be suitable painted on the
batteries, or on a separate board kept near the
 The procedure given below, however, generally
applies for initial charging to all makes of lead
acid batteries.
 Ensure that all the cells in the battery set are of
the same type and capacity. Charging individual
cells separately is not advisable.
 Battery grade dilute sulfuric acid conforming to
IS 266 and distilled or de-mineralized water
conforming to IS 1069 shall only be used as
 A glass, porcelain, rubber or any other acid
proof container shall only be used for mixing
acid and water.
 Always acid shall be added to water.
 During mixing, the solution must be stirred
constantly so that its temperature does not
exceed 50° C.
 Ratio in which sulfuric acid and distilled water
must be mixed is given in the table –1.

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Specific Specific
Gravity Gravity Distill Sulfuric
of the of the water acid
original solution
Acid required
1825 1400 11 7
1825 1190 5 1
1400 1190 6 5

 While preparing electrolyte, the solution should

be continuously stirred using a glass or wooden
 The temperature of the same should not be
allowed to exceeds the limit, then allow it to
 Allow it to cool for at least 10 to 12 hours and
see that the specific gravity is between 1190 and
 Since, specific gravity varies with the
temperature a correction must be applied to
arrive at the correct value.

For temperature > 27° C 0.0007 per ° C

For temperature < 27° C -0.0007 per ° C

 Clean all the new cells for the battery set with
distilled water and fill all of them with this
electrolyte which will ensure uniform specific

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 The level of the electrolyte should be about 12 to

15 mm above the plate.
 Check either the red mark indicated on the vent
float or use a glass tube to see the level.
 The charger output terminals must be correctly
connected to the battery set i.e. + to + and – to -.
 Ensure that all electrical connections between
the charger and the battery are tight and offer
good conductivity.
 Apply charge for 35 hours at the starting current
rate given by the empirical formula/ thumb rule,
where the starting charging current is taken as
4% of the ampere hours (AH) value of the cells.
Starting Current = 0.04 x AH value
(For initial charging)
 Check specific gravity and voltage reading every
8 hours. Apply temperature correction on the
specific gravity readings.
 Stop charging when the specific gravity becomes
 If the specific gravity of the cell/cells after
charging does not improve to its normal value, a
small quantity of electrolyte is taken out and
replaced by solution of higher specific gravity
(1400). A fresh charging cycle must then be
given for two hours to ensure mixing.
 Discharge the battery through a suitable load
(lamps) till the specific gravity reduces to
between 1180 and 1190 and the voltage of cells
to 1.85 V.

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 Repeat the cycle of charge and discharge once

again and then charge finally for use.
 Ensure that the battery is charged optimally and
no over charging, over gassing or heating takes
 Apply a coat of petroleum jelly or non-oxidizing
grease on the battery connectors to avoid
 Close all the vent caps and ensure that the floats
are in position.
 If after charging, the battery are not put up in use
for 15 days they should be given as equalizing
charge to bring specific gravity of all the cells to

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7. Maintenance and Inspection

 Maintenance tests and repair work on the cell,

which may interfere with safe operation of
trains, shall not be started until movements are
fully protected.
 Temporary repairs or adjustments shall be made
in such a manner that safety of train operation is
not impaired when repairs and or adjustments
are made.
 After the maintenance and repair work
(Including temporary repair) are completed tests
shall be immediately carried out to ensure that
the connected apparatus functions satisfactorily.
 Battery charger used shall be as per specification
no. IRS: S 86/2000 for battery charger self
 Float and boost mode shall be adjusted to 2.15
Volt/cell and 2.4 Volt/cell
 The battery room and location boxes shall be
kept well ventilated, free from water, oil or dust
surroundings and batteries shall be kept clean.
 Connecting cables shall be flexible and
sufficiently long to prevent strain on the battery
 The electrical connection shall always be kept
 The terminals and connections shall be coated
with pure Vaseline or petroleum jelly to prevent
 Grease shall not be used.

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 The electrolyte shall be maintained at the correct

level by topping up as often as necessary with
distilled or demineralised water.
 Electrolyte lost due to spillage shall be replaced
with proper amount of electrolyte of the same
specific gravity as that of other cells of the
 Electrolyte shall not be added in any other
 Each cell shall be tested periodically and its
cleaning and charging arranged so that its
voltage and specific gravity are within specified
 Test results and dates of cleaning and charging
adjustments shall be recorded on the Battery
History Card.
 A separate card shall be maintained for each
battery set.
 The voltage of individual cell shall not fall
below 1.85 Volts.

7.1 Precautions

 Checks / tests on battery and general cleaning

normally do not affect the circuit it is feeding.
However, care must be taken to ensure that the
working circuits do not get affected.
 For maintenance and repair works (including
temporary repairs) which may require
disconnecting or recharging or replacement of
the battery, disconnection notice must be issued
to the ASM on duty and work commenced after

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the same is allowed and necessary precautions

have been taken. This will ensure safety in train
 Always use suitable goggles and rubber gloves
and wears an apron while working with battery

7.2 General Cleaning

 Check each cell of the battery set once every

fifteen days. Ensure that all connections are
tight. Remove dust or dirt from the battery top
and connections. Wipe the battery using a wet
cloth piece and allow it to dry.
 At least once in three months, neutralize the acid
on the battery covers and terminals with either
ammonia or sodium bicarbonate solution in
water before cleaning. Keep terminals and metal
parts free of corrosion.

7.3 Electrolyte

 Distilled water (IS 1069) should be used to top

up the cells at regular intervals to maintain the
recommended electrolyte level. The level goes
down on account of evaporation, the electrolyte
level should never drop below the top of the
 Do not let it spill out to avoid electrolyte loss
and corrosion. Add distilled water only when the
battery is charging or gassing.

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 Electrolyte lost due to spillage should be

replaced with proper amount of electrolyte of the
same specific gravity as that of other cells of the
battery. Under no other circumstances should
electrolyte be added.
7.4 Voltage and Specific Gravity.

 The specific gravity and the terminal voltage of

batteries should be checked.
 Measurements must be taken after switching
OFF the charger of at least one hour.
 It is a good practice to switch off the charger of
at least one or two battery sets for 4 hours or
based on the battery set condition during
inspection and maintenance trips to the station.
This helps in not only accessing the condition of
the battery but also provides a discharge cycle.
 Keep accurate records of the battery voltages
and sp. gravity as these are extremely important.
They provide a detail history of the performance
of each cell. Variations observed from normal
values pin point the degradation in battery
condition which can be promptly corrected.
 In case, in a particular battery set, the specific
gravity of individual cells are observed to be
varying considerably, the electrolyte must be
exchanged / balanced between cells with higher
value of specific gravity for those having lower
value. This will also ensure uniform gravity in
all of them. Balancing of electrolyte has to be

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done for individual cell after taking out from the

 Records must include in the following proforma.

Form - S&T/BCP
Signal and Telecommunication Department


No. of Cells: Installation date:
Capacity (AH): Circuit reference:
Battery Set no.: Charging current:
Battery set voltage: Charger make:
Battery make : Charger capacity:

remarks Work done and
Cell no.

Param 1 2 - 10 - 15
Cell volts

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 When the charge in the battery set has gone down

considerably, recharging must be done at a
current equal to 10% of the AH value until the
specific gravity of the cell came to 1210±5.

7.5 Cable and connections

 Connectors and connecting cable should be

flexible and sufficiently long to prevent strain on
the battery terminals. The connecting cables
should have lead coated eyelets/lugs for
 Electrical connection should always be kept
tight. Loose connections get heated up leading to
 Terminals and connections should be coated
with pure Vaseline or petroleum jelly or non
oxidizing grease to prevent corrosion. If
corrosion occurred, it should be removed by
wiping clean with a solution of washing soda
and water (or dilute ammonia) taking care that
the solution does not enter the cells.
 Grease shall not be used.

7.6 Equalizing charge

 The battery, which is continuously used in “Float

Service” should be given equlising charge to
compensate for low/ uneven specific gravity of
cells. Equilsing charge is given to cells once in a
three months at fixed current (normally 1/10th of
AH capacity). The charging should be continued

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till the voltage and specific gravity in all cell

have remains constant for three consecutive half
hourly readings.

7.7 Miscellaneous

 The vent plugs should be kept in position and

tight. If a vent plug is lost, it should be replaced
early to prevent spillage of electrolyte.
 Defective cells should be disconnected and
replaced. Batteries showing irregularities, which
can not be corrected, should be taken out of
service and report made to proper authority.
 Only approved hydrometer and voltmeter should
be used for recording observations. It is
recommended that :
 Voltmeter should be of an accuracy class
not inferior to 1.0 in accordance with
IS:1248-68. The resistance of the voltmeter
must be at least 1000 Ohms per Volt.

7.8 Periodicity

 The periodicity of maintenance, will generally

be as given below, except otherwise modified by
the concerned Railway.

Maintainer Period
ESM/WTM Weekly
JE/SE Monthly
SSE Every quarter

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8. Trouble shooting

Sr. Cause Remedy

1. Battery does not charge.

1.1 Disconnection in the Check the circuit
charging circuit. and rectify.
1.2 Blowing OFF of charger fuse Check the fuse
AC or DC side and rectify
1.3 Loose connections or high Check the
resistance at terminals connection, clean
and tighten them.
1.4 Defective charger not Replace the
feeding current charger
1.5 Wrong connections Check the
connections and
2. Battery takes more time to charge
2.1 Loose connection or higher Open the
resistance at terminals connections and
clean and the
2.2 Charger not able to feed Replace the
enough charging current charger
2.3 Excessive discharge Charge the
battery separately
2.4 Wrong connection Check the
connection and

2.5 The charger out put Voltage Adjust the

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Sr. Cause Remedy

may be less than 2.5 Volt per charger output

cell. voltage.
2.6 Number of cells use may be Adjust number of
more than the charger cells as per 2.15
capacity. volt per cell
3. Battery does not last for long
3.1 Low electrolyte level Maintain the
level properly
3.2 Uneven specific gravity and Equalize the
voltage of the cells specific gravity
of each cell with
the electrolyte
3.3 Not properly or full charge Recharge again
3.4 Leakage in some cells Replace them
3.5 Reverse polarity on some Remove the
cells reverse polarity
cell from the set.
3.6 Inadequate number of cells Installed the cells
or load current is more. as per the load
3.7 Low specific gravity Add the solution
of higher specific
3.8 Charger output voltage or Adjust the output
charging current may not be voltage and
adequate charging current.
3.9 Batter charger may not be Replace the
adequate for charging battery charger with
of given AH adequate capacity

4. Battery over heats during charge or discharge

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Sr. Cause Remedy

4.1 Charging current very high, Make proper

especially at the finish. charging current
4.2 Charger voltage high. Check the voltage
and adjust
4.3 Charged for longer period. Discharge the
battery with
suitable load.
4.4 Over discharged or excessive Adjust the load
load current current
4.5 Poor ventilation or Make proper
temperature is high ventilation

4.6 Internal short circuit Replace the

4.7 More sediment material in Replace the cell
the cell, old/worn out cells
4.8 Low level of electrolyte Add the distilled
water as per
5. Low electrolyte level
5.1 Broke/cracked container of Replace the cell.
5.2 Distilled water not recouped Add the distilled
regular. water as per
5.3 Excessive charging Adjust the
charger current

5.4 Excessive heat Provide

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Sr. Cause Remedy

5.5 Vent caps missing Provide new vent
6. Voltage and specific gravity of cells unequal
6.1 Internal short circuit or Replaced the cell.
6.2 Leakage of electrolyte Replaced the cell
through crack cell, sealing
compound and covers
6.3 Dirty terminals of cell top Clean the
6.4 Used with low electrolyte Use proper
level electrolyte
6.5 Sedimentation high inside Replace the
the battery battery

6.6 Plates worn out Replace the

6.7 Impure electrolyte Replace the
electrolyte and
recharge the
7. Specific gravity is higher Adjust float
then normal during float voltage.
charging due to float voltage
is high.

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9. Spare parts

The following spare parts and consumables will

be necessary.

 Acid resistance paint IS158-68

 Sulfuric acid IS-266
 Distilled water IS-1069
 Ammonia
 Sodium bicarbonate (washing soda)
 Petroleum jelly or Vaseline or non-oxidizing
 Cloth for cleaning
 Nuts and bolts
 Connectors and cables
 Cotton waste grade A
 Vent cum float guide plugs
 Floats
 Rubber gloves.

10. Tools and measuring equipment

Following tools and measuring equipment will

be necessary:

 For measuring voltage, DC voltmeter ranges

0 volts to 200 volts
 DC ammeter ranges 0 amps to 50 amps
 Syringe type hydrometer
 Crocodile clips
 Wires or cables of adequate current capacity

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 Battery charger with controls for charging

 Spanner set
 Battery shunt meter
 Thermometer °C range 0-80°C
 Glass tube (20 to 30 cms long)
 Glass or PVC or porcelain or rubber
 Glass rod (30 to 40 cms long )
 Nylon brush with tough bristles.

11. Do’s and Don’ts

11.1 Do’s

 Ensure that the positive and negative wires are

connected to positive and negative terminals
respectively, while connecting the charger to the
 If the batteries not in use, keep the battery in full
charge condition by given an equalizing charge
atleast once every month.
 Ensure that the float indicator is available and in
working order.
 Electrolyte is highly corrosive and should be
handled carefully to avoid injury to person or
damage to clothing or equipment. If the
electrolyte is accidentally spilled, it should be
flushed with plenty of water immediately, after
treating with washing soda solution.

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 After the failure of power supply battery should

be charged on boost mode i.e. load plus three
ampere, preventing the battery from buckling of
battery due to rising temperature and
evaporation of distilled water.
 Ensure that charger float and boost voltages has
been adjusted to 2.15 Volt per cell and 2.4 Volt
per cell respectively.
 Ensure that charger is suitable for charging the
AH capacity of battery used.

11.2 Don’ts

 Do not allow over charging, excessive gassing

and heating
 Do not allow the batteries to get fully discharge.
 Do not allow open flame smoking near the
batteries to eliminate danger from explosion or
 Extreme care must be exercised to avoid a spark
or flash when changing connections or working
on or near the battery.
 Battery lead should first be disconnected at a
point remote from the battery set.
 Metal jugs should not be used for carrying water
required for topping up.
 Do not miss handle the cells, specially during
 Do not hold the cells by the electrode terminals.


Lead Acid Cell March’2005

Ver 2.0
CAMTECH/S/2005/LAC/2.0 32

Lead Acid Cell March’2005

Ver 2.0