Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA)

VRLA stands for valve-regulated lead-acid and is the designation for low-maintenance lead-acid rechargeable batteries. Because of their construction, VRLA batteries do not require regular addition of water to the cells. VRLA batteries are commonly further classified as:

  • Absorbent glass mat battery
  • Gel battery

These batteries are often colloquially called sealed lead-acid batteries, but they always include a safety pressure relief valve. As opposed to vented (also called flooded) batteries, a VRLA cannot spill its elecrolyte if it is inverted. Because VRLA batteries use much less electrolyte (battery acid) than traditional lead-acid batteries, they are also occasionally referred to as an "acid-starved" design.

The name "valve regulated" does not wholly describe the technology; these are really "recombinant" batteries, which means that the oxygen evolved at the positive plates will largely recombine with the hydrogen ready to evolve on the negative plates, creating water—thus preventing water loss. The valve is strictly a safety feature in case the rate of hydrogen evolution becomes dangerously high.

One result of this design is a much higher ratio of power to "floorspace" than large, flooded type battery systems; another is a high-rate power capacity, though of relatively short duration. As a result, VRLA batteries are frequently employed in UPS (uninterruptible power supply) or other high-rate applications.

 

Applications

VRLA batteries can be substituted in virtually any flooded lead-acid battery application (in conjunction with well-regulated charging), as well as applications where traditional flooded batteries cannot be used. Because of their unique features and benefits, VRLA batteries are particularly well suited for:
 

Deep Cycle, Deep Discharge Applications

  • Electronics
  • Motorcycles
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Wheelchairs
  • Golf Carts
  • Portable Power

Standby and Emergency Backup Applications

  • UPS (Uninterrupted Power Systems)
  • Cable TV
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Computer Backup
  • Solar Power
  • Telephone Switching
  • FTTH