AUTOSCRUBBER BUYING GUIDE
This is Part 3 of our 7 part guide on auto scrubbers. This part will discuss what you need to know about the batteries in your floor cleaning machine. Batteries are obviously crucial for your floor machine to run. While batteries are perceieved as simple, these heavy duty marine deep cycle batteries require careful maintenance but will last nearly 500 charge cycles if done correctly. For those that missed our prior posts: Part 1 discussed accessbility of parts and Part 2 discussed the frame & design quality
1. Battery Charging
Does the machine have an “Onboard” charger, or does it have a separate “Shelf” charger. Shelf chargers are less convenient, and the plugs can be damaged, from connecting and disconnecting, and must be optimized for the battery pack. Onboard chargers are more likely to fail, as they are exposed to constant vibration, are smaller and lighter (to fit on a machine) and have less rugged construction and components. Is the charger an “automatic” unit, which varies the charging to the needs of the battery pack, or a simpler “timer-based type?
2. Gauges and meters.
Does the machine have an hour meter and battery condition meter? Hour meters provide a means to assess service needs. Battery status meters provide the operator warning when the machine will soon need recharging and prevent starting a job which can’t be finished. Status meters also prolong battery life by eliminating operator guessing when the batteries need charging. Deep cycle batteries can be charged a finite number of times called a cycle (approximately 400-500 cycles). Automatic chargers draw the batteries down to prevent “memory” from forming, and then charge the pack up again. By charging only when needed unnecessary chargings are eliminated, extending battery pack life.
3. Machine run time.
What is the run time before the machine requires recharging? Are different battery options available to match run time with cleaning requirements? How big is the battery pack? A smaller battery pack lowers the price of the machine but may artificially limit productivity. Match your batteries to the demands of the job – If it will take you less than 2-3 hours for one job do not have a battery pack listed to last 4-5 hours. Do not charge your machine when the battery is 2/3 full because it will still knock one more “charge cycle” off of its life.
4. Battery Compartment & Battery Maintenance
Does the machine have a battery liner or pan in which the batteries are located? Deep cycle batteries generate heat during operation, and during charging. Operators should check solution levels after operating the machine as fluid levels rise as the batteries heat up. After use and before charging the operator should make sure there is enough water to cover the cells, if there is not distilled water should be added. If the operator adds water before using the machine, solution can overflow from the batteries. A liner prevents the overflow to drip onto the frame/ transaxle, other metals parts or on the floor, protecting against unnecessary corrosion and floor damage. If battery maintenance sounds like too much trouble there is an alternative. AGM sealed sealed batteries do not require maintenance. These are much more expensive but do not expose the operator to battery fumes, and do not require water maintenance. However AGM batteries have fewer charge cycles, less run-time, and are much more expensive.
© Keep Clean Products, Inc 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keep Clean Products Inc. with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.