Lead-acid batteries are commonly found in motor vehicles, battery backup systems and other electrical applications where a rechargeable battery is required. Lead-acid batteries are generally reliable for everyday use; however, these batteries do have their shortcomings. It is important to be aware of the dangers and disadvantages of lead-acid batteries before including one in your electrical circuit.
Dangers from Chemical Burns
The electrolyte in a typical lead-acid battery is made up of approximately 36 percent sulfuric acid and 64 percent water. This acid solution can cause chemical burns to the skin; therefore, you should use extreme caution when working around a lead-acid battery.
Flammable Gases While Charging
When a lead-acid battery is recharged, some of the electrolyte may evaporate and hydrogen gas will escape from the battery cell vents. Hydrogen gas is flammable, so lead-acid batteries should be stored and recharged away from any sources of fire or flame.
Batteries Can Be Heavy
A lead-acid battery is made up of several lead and lead oxide electrode plates immersed in an acidic electrolyte. An automotive battery can weigh between 30 and 60 pounds. Lifting a lead-acid battery improperly can cause injury.
Electrolyte Can Evaporate
Conventional lead-acid batteries contain at least one battery vent per cell. As mentioned earlier, electrolyte may evaporate through this vent while the battery is being recharged. If the electrolyte level in any of the battery cells falls below the minimum required level, the battery may cease to function correctly. When this happens, you must add distilled water to the affected battery cell to bring the electrolyte level to normal.
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