Sealed lead acid battery charging circuit diagram

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Understanding Sealed Lead Acid Batteries

Sealed lead acid batteries, also known as valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries, are maintenance-free, spill-proof, and rechargeable batteries. They are designed with a valve that allows the release of excess pressure generated during charging, hence the name “valve-regulated.”

SLA batteries come in two main types:

  1. Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries
  2. Gel batteries

Both types offer advantages such as low self-discharge rates, high energy density, and the ability to be used in various orientations without leakage.

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Battery Charging Stages

To properly charge an SLA battery, a charging circuit should follow a specific charging profile that consists of three main stages:

  1. Bulk charge stage
  2. Absorption stage
  3. Float charge stage

Bulk Charge Stage

In the bulk charge stage, the charging circuit applies a constant current to the battery until it reaches a preset voltage level, typically around 14.4V to 14.7V (for a 12V battery). During this stage, the battery reaches approximately 80% of its full charge capacity.

Absorption Stage

Once the battery voltage reaches the preset level, the charging circuit switches to the absorption stage. In this stage, the voltage is maintained at the preset level while the current gradually decreases. This stage allows the battery to reach its full charge capacity without overcharging.

Float Charge Stage

After the absorption stage, the charging circuit enters the float charge stage. The voltage is lowered to a maintenance level, usually around 13.6V to 13.8V (for a 12V battery), to keep the battery fully charged and compensate for any self-discharge that may occur.

Battery charging circuit Components

A typical sealed lead acid battery charging circuit consists of the following components:

  1. Power supply
  2. Voltage regulator
  3. Current limiter
  4. Temperature sensor
  5. Charge status indicator

Power Supply

The power supply provides the necessary input voltage and current for the charging circuit. It can be a transformer-based AC-to-DC converter or a switch-mode power supply (SMPS). The power supply should be capable of delivering the required charging current and voltage for the specific SLA battery.

Voltage Regulator

The voltage regulator maintains the output voltage at the desired level during the charging process. It ensures that the battery is charged at the correct voltage in each charging stage. A common choice for the voltage regulator is a adjustable linear regulator, such as the LM317, or a switch-mode regulator, like the MC34063.

Current Limiter

The current limiter restricts the charging current to a safe level to prevent overheating and damage to the battery. It is typically implemented using a resistor in series with the battery or a dedicated current limiting circuit. The current limit is set based on the battery’s capacity and the recommended charging rate provided by the manufacturer.

Temperature Sensor

Temperature plays a crucial role in the charging process of SLA batteries. High temperatures can lead to overcharging and reduced battery life. A temperature sensor, such as a thermistor or a dedicated temperature sensing IC, is used to monitor the battery temperature and adjust the charging voltage accordingly. If the temperature exceeds a safe threshold, the charging circuit may shut down to protect the battery.

Charge Status Indicator

A charge status indicator provides visual feedback on the charging progress and the battery’s state of charge. It can be implemented using LEDs, an LCD display, or a combination of both. Common indicators include:

  • Red LED: Charging in progress
  • Green LED: Fully charged
  • Yellow LED: Fault or error condition

Designing the Battery Charging Circuit

When designing a sealed lead acid battery charging circuit, several key factors must be considered:

Battery Capacity and Charging Current

The charging circuit should be designed to match the capacity and recommended charging current of the specific SLA battery. The battery capacity is measured in amp-hours (Ah), and the charging current is typically specified as a fraction of the capacity (C-rate). For example, a 10Ah battery with a recommended charging rate of 0.1C would require a charging current of 1A (10Ah × 0.1).

Charging Voltage and Termination

The charging voltage and termination points should be set according to the battery manufacturer’s specifications. For a 12V SLA battery, the typical charging voltages are:

  • Bulk charge stage: 14.4V to 14.7V
  • Absorption stage: 14.4V to 14.7V
  • Float charge stage: 13.6V to 13.8V

The charging circuit should terminate the charging process when the battery reaches the desired voltage level and the current drops below a certain threshold, indicating a full charge.

Safety Features

Incorporating safety features into the charging circuit is essential to protect both the battery and the charging system. Some important safety features include:

  • Overcharge protection: Prevents the battery from being charged beyond its maximum voltage limit.
  • Reverse polarity protection: Protects the charging circuit and the battery from damage due to incorrect connection of the battery terminals.
  • Short-circuit protection: Limits the current in case of a short circuit to prevent damage to the charging circuit and the battery.
  • Temperature monitoring: Adjusts the charging voltage based on the battery temperature and shuts down the charging process if the temperature exceeds a safe limit.

Efficiency and Power Dissipation

The charging circuit should be designed for high efficiency to minimize power losses and heat generation. This can be achieved by using efficient voltage regulators, such as switch-mode regulators, and properly sizing the components to handle the required power dissipation.

Implementing the Battery Charging Circuit

Here is an example implementation of a sealed lead acid battery charging circuit using the LM317 adjustable linear regulator:

[Insert battery charging circuit diagram]

– T1: Transformer (12V AC output)
– BR1: Bridge rectifier
– C1: Filter capacitor
– U1: LM317 adjustable linear regulator
– R1, R2: Voltage divider resistors
– R3: Current limiting resistor
– D1: Charge status LED (red)
– D2: Fully charged LED (green)
– TH1: Thermistor (temperature sensor)

The circuit operates as follows:

  1. The transformer (T1) steps down the AC input voltage to 12V AC.
  2. The bridge rectifier (BR1) converts the AC voltage to DC.
  3. The filter capacitor (C1) smooths the rectified DC voltage.
  4. The LM317 adjustable linear regulator (U1) regulates the output voltage based on the values of resistors R1 and R2. The output voltage is set to the desired charging voltage for each stage (bulk, absorption, and float).
  5. The current limiting resistor (R3) limits the charging current to a safe level.
  6. The charge status LED (D1) indicates that charging is in progress, while the fully charged LED (D2) indicates when the battery is fully charged.
  7. The thermistor (TH1) monitors the battery temperature and adjusts the charging voltage accordingly.

Battery Charging Circuit Troubleshooting

If the battery charging circuit is not functioning as expected, follow these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Check the input voltage: Ensure that the input voltage to the charging circuit is within the specified range and stable.

  2. Verify the battery connections: Make sure the battery is connected with the correct polarity and the connections are secure.

  3. Measure the output voltage: Use a multimeter to measure the output voltage of the charging circuit. It should match the desired charging voltage for the current charging stage.

  4. Check the current limit: Verify that the current limiting resistor is properly sized and the charging current is within the recommended range for the battery.

  5. Monitor the battery temperature: Ensure that the temperature sensor is functioning correctly and the charging voltage is adjusted based on the battery temperature.

  6. Inspect the components: Visually inspect the circuit components for any signs of damage, overheating, or loose connections.

  7. Review the circuit design: Double-check the circuit design and component values against the battery manufacturer’s specifications and recommended charging profile.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Can I use this charging circuit for different types of sealed lead acid batteries?
    Yes, this charging circuit can be used for various types of sealed lead acid batteries, including AGM and gel batteries. However, make sure to adjust the charging voltage and current according to the specific battery’s specifications.

  2. How long does it take to fully charge an SLA battery using this circuit?
    The charging time depends on the battery capacity and the charging current. As a general rule, it takes approximately 10 to 14 hours to fully charge an SLA battery using a charging current of 0.1C (10% of the battery’s capacity). For example, a 10Ah battery with a charging current of 1A would take around 10 to 14 hours to fully charge.

  3. Can I use this charging circuit for multiple batteries connected in series or parallel?
    Yes, you can use this charging circuit for multiple batteries connected in series or parallel. For batteries connected in series, multiply the charging voltage by the number of batteries. For batteries connected in parallel, make sure the charging current is sufficient for the total capacity of the batteries.

  4. What should I do if the battery overheats during charging?
    If the battery overheats during charging, immediately disconnect the battery from the charging circuit and allow it to cool down. Check the battery for any signs of damage or swelling. If the battery appears to be in good condition, verify that the charging voltage and current are set correctly and the temperature sensor is functioning properly.

  5. How often should I charge my sealed lead acid battery?
    It is recommended to charge your sealed lead acid battery when its voltage drops below 12.4V (for a 12V battery) or if it has been unused for an extended period (more than 6 months). Avoid letting the battery discharge below 10.5V, as deep discharge can diminish the battery’s lifespan and capacity.


A properly designed and implemented sealed lead acid battery charging circuit is essential for maintaining the health and performance of SLA batteries. By understanding the charging stages, selecting the appropriate components, and considering safety features, you can build a reliable and efficient charging circuit for your specific application.

Remember to always refer to the battery manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations when designing and using a charging circuit. Regular monitoring and maintenance of the battery and the charging system will help ensure optimal performance and extend the battery’s lifespan.

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