How to Tell if Your Battery is Bad?

30th Jun 2014

3 Easy Steps to Test Batteries

When dealing with lead acid batteries (or any other rechargeable battery) you must understand how improper charging and frequent deep discharging can impact the life span of your battery. However, at times, there are certain “chemical issues” that can cause temporary but resolvable problems - one of them is producing a lower amount of electricity. 


Here are three simple steps to test the battery on your own and find out if it’s bad: 

Step 1 - Inspection 

The first and the most important step is performing a detailed inspection. At times, you can detect the issue by simply taking a close look at the battery. However there are a few things you must keep in mind, when examining a battery: 

Terminals - Make sure there are no loose or broken terminals - this can cause short circuit, and in case of chemical batteries, broken terminals can even cause the battery to explode. So if you see any broken or loose terminals, fix them immediately.

Discoloration - Discoloration occurs when the battery gets heated up quickly. So if you detect any traces of discoloration, it means your battery is having problems dissipating heat. It might also be the case that its electrodes are not ionizing properly. 

Bumps - Bumps and bulges indicate that your battery is not storing charges properly or you have overcharged the battery - in both cases, you need to completely discharge the battery first and then charge it back to full capacity. 

Electrolyte Level - If you are using flooded batteries, you have to maintain electrolyte levels and make sure that the electrodes are completely immersed in it. Excessive exposure to oxygen and dried electrodes can cause sulfation, which prevents the battery from getting fully charged. 

Step 2 - State of Charge 

An easy way to determine the efficiency and performance of your battery is to inspect its state of charge. All you have to do is take voltage readings from time to time.

For example, if the reading for a 12 Volt battery is 0 Volts your battery is completely discharged. If after fully charging the battery the reading is still not crossing 12 Volts your battery has a dead cell or sulfated electrodes. 

Step 3 - Load Test 

Load testing is conducted to determine whether the battery is storing charge and producing electricity properly or not. All you have to do is charge the battery completely, connect it to an appropriate load and note the voltage drop. 

For example, if a 12 Volt fully charged battery can maintain 9-10 Volts for more than 30 seconds after being connected to the load your the battery is healthy. However, if the voltage drastically drops, it means there is some major issue with the battery. 

Examine your battery following the above mentioned steps and determine if it’s healthy or not!