Powersport vehicles include Personal Watercraft (PWC), All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs), dune and golf buggies, motorcycles and snowmobiles, all of which are equipped with batteries. In addition to cranking the engine, a dependable, fully charged battery is also essential for powering all the vehicle’s onboard accessories, like communications systems, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and mobile device chargers.
Typical seasonal uses for powersport vehicles expose them to a variety of harsh conditions, such as rough trails and extreme temperatures, that can affect their performance and service life if not given proper care. Like most other components in the vehicle, the battery is critical to dependable operation and must be durable enough to face conditions that are specific to the vehicle’s use, whether traveling over unpaved roads, sand, snow or water. PWC, for example, encounter salt water, debris, marine life and hot weather. Snowmobiles, on the other hand, typically endure icy conditions and frigid weather. To operate in these very different environments, the battery must tolerate vibration, shock and extreme heat or cold, as well as prevent spillage if the vehicle tips over. Furthermore, as powersport vehicles are often ridden on a seasonal basis, intermittent use that alternates with the vehicle sitting idle can affect the performance of the battery.
Advancements in Battery Technology
Over the decades, advancements in technology has enhanced the performance and durability of batteries used in powersport applications. Batteries that are made of Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) construction, for example, pack the plates, or electrodes, tightly in absorbent fiberglass mat separators that hold the electrolyte. AGM batteries are also sealed to protect against high-impact shock and mechanical vibration, two common causes of battery failure. The tight seal provides a virtually maintenance-free battery by eliminating the need to fill the cells with distilled water to maintain the electrolyte level. The seal also makes the battery non-spillable and leakproof.
ODYSSEY® batteries by EnerSys® apply AGM technology with an additional innovation. Manufactured with a proprietary Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology, advanced ODYSSEY® batteries deliver power for Starting, Lighting and Ignition (SLI) and auxiliary equipment found in today’s powersport vehicles. TPPL technology can also handle the low states of charge that are common with irregularly used vehicles. Pure lead plates can be made thinner, so more fit in the same battery footprint as that of a comparably sized conventional flooded lead acid battery. This provides more active surface area to increase the number of electrochemical reactions with the electrolyte, which delivers double to triple the cranking power of conventional lead acid batteries. Pure lead plates also eliminate the risk of galvanic corrosion, which occurs when dissimilar metals come into contact while submerged in the sulfuric acid of the electrolyte, and sulfation, which is the accumulation of lead sulfate crystals on the plates when the battery is persistently undercharged. Sulfation can interfere with the battery’s ability to hold a charge.
In addition, ODYSSEY® batteries can perform in temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C) to as high as 176°F (80°C). They also offer up to three times the life of conventional batteries in the same application and one of the highest recharge efficiencies of any sealed lead acid battery.
Taking Proper Care of the Powersport Battery
Proper care of powersport vehicles includes paying attention to the battery, which should be fully charged whenever you run the engine. All battery connections should be clean, tightened and intact. When using a charger, it is important not to overcharge the battery and it is best not to jumpstart it from running vehicles. Use the following steps for proper upkeep. As always, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery care and handling and direct any questions to your battery professional.
Inspection and cleaning: When decommissioning the vehicle for end-of-season maintenance, inspect cables, connections and the battery case. Remove any dirt, debris or corrosion on the battery terminals. Ensure all battery-related hardware is tight, including the terminals and hold-downs.
Use warm water to clean the battery. If there is any presence of acid residue, create a mixture of one part baking soda to three parts water. Apply the mixture until foaming stops, then rinse. Do not use any detergents on batteries as they are made of a plastic that can break down and become contaminated if cleaning solutions are applied.
Test State of Charge (SOC): Simple testing can be performed to determine the battery’s SOC. To conduct a test, use a digital voltmeter to measure the disconnected battery’s Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) at least six hours after the battery has been charged. This rest period allows the battery’s chemical reactions to reach a state of equilibrium and the surface charge to dissipate so that an accurate voltage reading is obtained. The manufacturer’s specifications will provide the OCV that corresponds to 100 percent SOC.
Charge the battery: If testing indicates a decreased SOC, charge the battery whether you’re recommissioning or decommissioning the vehicle. This will help ensure the life and capacity of the battery. A full charge will also help keep the battery from freezing. A smart charger can prevent the battery from being overcharged.
Chargers aren’t universal, so be sure to use the right charger and the right settings for your battery type. The best way to charge an AGM battery is to use a charger designed specifically for that type.
Decommissioning without parasitic drain: When decommissioning the vehicle, disconnect the battery cables. Leaving the cables connected makes the battery susceptible to parasitic draw from any electronics that remain connected. While this may be only a very small power draw, it nevertheless can drain the capacity of a battery in a relatively short time. If you disconnect the cables, the battery can be left idle without charging.
An alternative to disconnecting the battery is to use a trickle charger, also known as a maintenance charger. A trickle charger will overcome any parasitic amperage drain when the battery is still active while the engine is off. Trickle chargers must only be used after the battery has been fully charged,
Many powersport vehicles use a stator instead of an alternator. Stators generally are minimized to provide basic recharge and general operational performance. They often do not fully charge the battery when the vehicle is ridden. To prevent sulfation, keep the battery on a trickle charger if the vehicle uses a stator, even after it’s been recommissioned.
Expanding the Range of TPPL Batteries for Powersport Applications
To make the benefits of TPPL technology available to a greater number of powersport enthusiasts, EnerSys® recently added three of the most popular sizes for powersport vehicles to the ODYSSEY® battery portfolio. The three models, ODS-AGM14 (Group size BTX14), ODS-AGM20L (Group size BTX20L) and ODS-AGM30L (Group size BTX30L), are compatible with a variety of powersports applications, including motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and PWC. All three battery models feature a drop-in fit, so no tools are needed for installation. ODYSSEY® powersport batteries are also the first in these group sizes to be available with TPPL technology.
To follow the latest ODYSSEY® battery news, visit our website at www.odysseybattery.com or connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by using the hashtag #MYODYSSEY.
EnerSys, the global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications, manufactures and distributes energy systems solutions and motive power batteries, specialty batteries, battery chargers, power equipment, battery accessories and outdoor equipment enclosure solutions to customers worldwide. Energy Systems, which combine enclosures, power conversion, power distribution and energy storage, are used in the telecommunication, broadband and utility industries, uninterruptible power supplies and numerous applications. Motive power batteries and chargers are utilized in electric forklift trucks and other industrial electric powered vehicles requiring stored energy solutions. Specialty batteries are used in aerospace and defense applications, large over-the-road trucks, premium automotive, medical and security systems applications. EnerSys also provides aftermarket and customer support services to its customers in over 100 countries through its sales and manufacturing locations around the world. With the NorthStar acquisition, EnerSys has solidified its position as the market leader for premium Thin Plate Pure Lead batteries, which are sold across all three lines of business. More information regarding EnerSys can be found at www.enersys.com.
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