What Is a Sealed Lead Acid Battery (SLA)/Valve-Regulated Lead Acid Battery (VRLA)?
Sealed lead acid batteries, also known as valve-regulated lead acid batteries, are vented batteries commonly constructed 3 ways: cells with plates in an electrolyte and sulfuric acid solution, an electrolyte absorbed and immobilized in a fiberglass mat between two lead plates (absorbent glass mat (AGM)) or a suspended silica electrolyte gel (gel batteries). In a sealed lead acid (SLA) battery, the electrolyte cannot escape the battery case.
SLA batteries are sometimes referred to as valve-regulated lead acid batteries because they are constructed with a valve which serves as a vent to prevent hydrogen gas buildup in the battery.
What are Sealed Lead Acid Batteries Used For?
Sealed lead acid batteries are versatile, reliable and efficient, making them popular for use in:
- Home alarm and fire systems
- Backup systems, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, generators and sump pumps
- Mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs and golf carts
- ATV’s and motorcycles
- Cars, RV’s and SUV’s
- Medical devices
- Off-grid solar systems
Are All Sealed Lead Acid Batteries the Same?
No, all sealed lead acid batteries are not the same.
General Purpose SLA Batteries are used largely for initial power startups in powered toys and automotives.
Gel SLA Batteries are used for demanding applications where long-term power and a large number of cycles is needed (RV’s, wheelchairs, solar and wind power).
High Rate UPS SLA Batteries (AGM) are long-lasting, low-maintenance, energy and cost-efficient batteries used for emergencies and power backups.
Deep Cycle SLA Batteries (AGM) are used for constant flows of long-term power (power chairs, industrial machines and marine motors).
The two most common types of sealed lead acid batteries are AGM and gel. AGM batteries have higher energy storage capabilities and a longer life span, while gel batteries release less hydrogen gas, require more diligent charging habits and perform better in high temperatures.
What are the Advantages of Sealed Lead Acid Batteries?
The first rechargeable battery ever invented, sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries are low-maintenance to maintenance-free, as well as affordable and reliable. SLA batteries are resilient and have high discharge rates, and they are convenient space-saving options thanks to their stackability.
Lead acid batteries are available in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, voltages and amperages, making them widely flexible to suit a range of high-power applications.
What Safety Precautions Should Be Taken with Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (VRLA’s)?
The construction of sealed lead acid (valve-regulated lead acid) batteries protects against leakage, spills and fumes, however it is important to monitor charge levels in sealed lead acid batteries to avoid thermal runaway.
When replacing sealed lead batteries, be sure your new batteries have the same specifications as the original batteries, and remember, sealed lead acid batteries require proper disposal.