How can you increase your battery life span?

Explore what causes corrosion, shedding, electrical short, sulfation, dry-out, acid stratification and surface charge.

Just knowing a few key things can save you money on batteries and prepare you to buy the right battery for you.

The common characteristics that limit the life spans of all batteries are:

  • Cycles
  • Design Life
  • Improper Operation



Cycles refer to the process of removing power in a rechargeable battery then storing that power. Depending on the depth of the discharge from 100% to 0% capacity you can determine how many cycles a battery has at different depths of discharge.

So, for example, if a battery is depleted to 70% capacity (30% capacity is removed) and recharged to 100% that battery has used "1 cycle to 70% Depth Of Discharge". And depending on the battery design it will have a limited amount of cycles at that specific depth before it reaches its end of life state.

All batteries can fall victim to cycles. This is an aspect of batteries you must take into consideration when looking to buy batteries.


Design Life:

Design Life refers to the life span of a battery in ideal conditions (like a laboratory). All batteries have an estimated design life at which the battery material starts to decay/breakdown. 

All batteries have a design life at which the battery reaches the end of life state. You need to understand this and make an educated choice of battery for your requirements/situation.


Improper Operation:

This section points toward the specification limitations of a battery. there are many situations for batteries that can damage and reduce their life span. Temperature, humidity, physical impacts, overcharging, undercharging, high voltages, short circuit, being left depleted for long periods, etc.

If you are unsure about any batteries you want to purchase please contact us, we will be as helpful as possible.


Read below for more detailed information on battery deterioration.

A lead-acid battery goes through three life phases: formatting, peak and decline (Image below). In the formatting phase, the plates are in a sponge-like condition surrounded by a liquid electrolyte. Exercising the plates allows the absorption of electrolyte, much like squeezing and releasing a hardened sponge. As the electrodes activate, the capacity gradually increases.

Lead Acid Life Cycle

Cycle life of a battery.

The three phases of a Lead Acid battery are formatting, peak and decline. (time is over years)

Formatting is most important for deep-cycle batteries. They require 20–50 full cycles to reach peak capacity and field usage does this. During breaking-in, manufacturers recommend going easy on the battery. Starter batteries are less critical and do not need priming. The full cranking power is available from the beginning, although CCA will go up slightly with formatting in early use.

A deep-cycle battery delivers 100–200 cycles before a gradual decline begins. Replacement should occur when the capacity drops to 70 or 80 per cent. Some applications allow lower capacity thresholds but the time for retirement should never fall below 50% as ageing may hasten once past the prime.

To keep lead acid in good condition, apply a fully saturated charge lasting 14 to 16 hours. If the charge cycle does not allow this, give the battery a fully saturated charge once every few weeks. If at all possible, operate at moderate temperature and avoid deep discharges; charge as often as you can. 

The primary reason for the relatively short cycle life of a lead-acid battery is depletion of the active material. According to the 2010 BCI Failure Modes Study, plate/grid-related breakdown has increased from 30% 5 years ago to 39% today. The report does not provide reasons for the larger wear and tear other than to assume that higher demands on the starter battery in modern cars induce added stress. The organization conducts a study every 5 years to determine the failure modes of batteries that have been removed from service. (BCI stands for Battery Council International.)

While the depletion of the active material is well understood and can be calculated, a lead-acid battery suffers from other infirmities long before plate- and grid-deterioration sound the death knell. These conditions are found under corrosion, Shedding and internal Short, Sulfation and How to Prevent it, and Water Loss, Acid Stratification and Surface Charge. Most of these can be reduced by proper handling.