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Float charging is most commonly used for backup and emergency power
applications where the discharge of the battery is infrequent. During float
charging the charger, battery, and load are connected in parallel. The
charger operates off the normal power supply, which provides current to the
load during operation. In the event of normal power supply failure, the
battery provides backup power until the normal power supply is restored.
Since most equipment requires alternating current, a rectifier circuit is
usually added between the battery and the load. Float chargers are
typically constant-voltage chargers that operate at a low voltage.
Operating the charger at a low voltage, usually less than about 2.4 V per
cell, keeps the charging current low and thus minimizes the damaging
effects of high-current overcharging.
For valve-regulated batteries, an important consideration when
float charging is the possible occurrence of a phenomenon called “thermal
runaway”. The best way of preventing thermal runaway is through the use of
a temperature-compensated battery charger. A temperature-compensated
charger adjusts the float voltage based upon battery temperature.
Temperature-compensated chargers will increase the reliability and prolong
the life of the battery/charger system. They are especially useful for
batteries located in areas where temperatures may be significantly above
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Last Updated: Monday, December 03, 2007 - 6:26 AM Eastern Time.