Sulphatation is the main cause of premature battery failure. In general, sulphatation results from two factors, the charging condition of the battery for one thing and the time the battery remains unused for another. The longer a battery remains unused and the more discharged it is, the faster it will start to sulfate. This means that a fully discharged battery that remains unused will become sulfated very fast (already within a few days), whereas a fully charged battery can be left unattended for a couple of months without suffering sulphatation. Sulphatation makes the lead oxide that is created in the plates during discharge form major crystals (a kind of white powder).  These large lead sulfate crystals cannot be decomposed any more with charge and thus cause a loss of battery capacity.
The loss of capacity by means of sulphatation causes irrevocable damage to the battery.

How can it be avoided:
Always keep batteries fully charged and when they will be left unattended (for more than 1 month), connect a constant battery charger. If there is no constant battery charger available, you can also charge periodically (+/- every 3 weeks) with an ordinary battery charger. Remember that it is not possible to overcharge a battery (if you dispose of an electronically controlled battery charger) whereas it is possible to charge it insufficiently, resulting in a discharged battery susceptible to sulphatation. Sulphatation is also possible when generating sets are for instance started frequently but only run for a limited period of time. The battery becomes more and more discharged and does not have the time to recharge because of the short running periods. Therefore it is important to keep the battery charged by letting the generating set run a little longer from time to time or to recharge the battery. 

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